"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, March 19, 2010

Florida Shenanigans

I sometimes wonder if the conservatives in Florida and the wingnuts in Texas are secretly trying to out-do each other with awful education reforms.

A lot of attention has been focused on Texas (for good reason), but two potential reforms in Florida deserve a mention.

Looks like tuition tax credits will expand in Florida:

Florida voucher expansion bill advancing

Sellers of beer, wine and liquor would be added to the list of businesses that can get tax credits for donating to a private school program for low-income children as part of a Florida bill that also increases the value of the vouchers.

The measure that easily cleared the Senate Finance and Tax Committee on Tuesday pits a couple old adversaries: former Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers union.

The union was part of a lawsuit that overturned a voucher program Bush started for students from what the state deemed to be failing public schools. The Florida Supreme Court struck down the "opportunity scholarships" that allowed those students to attend private schools at taxpayer expense.


The bill also would raise a $118 million cap on the program to $140 million during the budget year starting July 1 and allow for automatic increases after that if the program raises at least 90 percent of the capped amount in a given year.

[Continued here]

Florida is also pushing a merit-pay bill that would use FCAT scores for pay and staffing issues (and these scores would account for over 50% of a teacher's evaluation). Sherman Dorn asks about constitutionality issues; a summary of the bill is available here.

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