Thursday, January 27, 2011


Report from Bonnie Cunard in Florida

Today's Education Forward Summit in Boca Raton, Florida:
"What would you tell Gov. Rick Scott if you wanted to give him advice for education policy?"
I had the pleasure and honor of attending:
"The three-hour summit, held at Lynn University, was organized by Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, to open a dialogue about the critical needs of Florida education and discuss how change is coming to the state under new Gov. Rick Scott and a Republican-dominated legislature" ((Palm Beach Post News)
Diane Ravitch gave an amazing, concise, research supported overview of the current education reforms.
"If we don't do what's right, we will all pay the price," said Diane Ravitch, former U.S. Secretary of Education and the summit's keynote speaker. "Our schools should be far better than they are today."
One of the most contentious topics was charter schools and the privatization of public education. Ravitch, who once championed charter schools while secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush, now opposes them, saying they are not a "silver bullet" or a "panacea" to fix education.
"We need strong public schools because these are the schools that educate 90 percent of our children," Ravitch said." (Palm Beach Post News)
Others also discussed ideas.
"Palm Beach County teacher's union president Robert Dow put it simply: "Stop demonizing teachers." Teachers feel threatened when they should feel ennobled, Dow said." (Sun Sentinel)
Videos available here:
Discussion Highlights:
Peter Cunningham, Asst Secretary,  Department of Education,  admitted that charters would end up killing themselves off... his words. Then he admitted more than 83% of charters do no better or worse than public schools.
If the measures to reform education must be fiscally prudent and proven to work, I'd say the DOE made our point for us.
Judging from the huge crowd today and the fact that public school advocates, parents, and teachers drove from all around the state to attend, it is obvious that many agree that gambling with our public school system is not worth the risk.
Businessman, Barney Bishop was asked how he would change education for the better and he answered, 'Let the Dollars Follow the Students.'
In that order... money before children.  He put profit before kids. He continued,
"Even a blue-collar worker needs to read to operate machinery," Bishop said, adding that the private sector is paying unnecessary money to train workers who should have been taught in school."
I quickly sent this question to Senator Sachs:
Re: Bishop - "Rudimentary skills?" Yet he never mentions collaboration? Are we hoping to grow blue collar students?
Fortunately, the voice of reason prevailed:
Diane Ravitch introduced an important note of research: There are over 60,000 homeless students in NYC, a heavily charter school area, and yet of those 60,000 homeless children... only 150 are attending charter schools.... only 150.

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