Posted in Mission, Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Meet Miguel Cardona, the New U.S. Secretary of Education | NEACindy Long…

Historical…

I am so hopeful that for the first time, that I can remember, our NEA
(National Education Association) will have a cooperative relationship with the Secretary of Education…What a difference for our children and public schools will this make!!! This is historical…Such an opportunity!!!

NEA President Becky Pringle sat down (virtually) with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and hundreds of NEA members to learn about the department’s priorities during the pandemic and beyond…

Pringle thanked Cardona and President Joe Biden’s administration for honoring “the promises made to get control of the pandemic, to make investments in public education, to listen to educators, and to lead on racial and social justice.”

Cardona then expressed appreciation for educators’ heroic and unyielding work during the pandemic, saying more people than ever now recognize that community and state growth starts with good education: “I want to thank you for your commitment and for everything you’ve done,” he said.

Cardona stated that he will focus on closing the digital divide and homework gap; getting all of our students back into classrooms as quickly and safely as possible; creating equitable access to college and career programs; and making higher education affordable..

As his department begins to address these issues, Cardona said he will partner with NEA every step of the way as we “learn together, grow together, and heal together.” But we must not lose the sense of urgency of the pandemic, he cautioned…

“Our kids need us now more than ever. … We now have the opportunity to hit reset on things that don’t work, and I am committed to making sure we have NEA at the table to [elevate the profession] and do the very best for our students.”

NEA members submitted thousands of questions for Secretary Cardona. The following are some highlights of the hourlong town hall, with questions and responses edited for brevity…


Key Takeaways

Cardona’s priorities: closing the digital divide and homework gap; getting all of our students back into classrooms as quickly and safely as possible; creating equitable access to college and career programs; and making higher education affordable.
The Department of Education will work with NEA and educators to guide decisions on assessments…
Educators and unions will be part of the planning process in how American Rescue Plan funds are used to best serve students…

Question:

Can you share with us how you envision the future of assessments?..

Miguel Cardona: There is no “one-size-fits-all.” For example, assessing students who don’t understand English makes no sense. I get the frustration and the challenge that assessments present. No educator needs a standardized test to let them know how their students are doing. It’s just one data point. We need sensible assessments, always asking, why are we doing this? Does it improve instruction? Does it help serve students?

I’ve seen an overreliance on tests, and I’ve seen a harmful narrowing of curriculum. Assessments should mirror good instruction, and I’m eager to make sure they are authentic and assess students in a real way. I look forward to having NEA members at the table from the beginning to guide the work on assessments.

Now that the money from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) is going to the state and local schools, how are you working to ensure governors and local districts are using the funding to best help our students?

MC: We released an application for states to share what their plans are going to be and what they entail, and I want those plans to be public … to have educators’ fingerprints all over them…

We need to work with our educators and all stakeholders. We need ongoing collaboration. This is unprecedented, the amount of funds going to schools, and we need to be good stewards of that, which means bringing educators and all voices together.

We put out guidance (that includes the voices of NEA members) to make sure the money is going to support schools and not supplant funding that would have been there before.

I recognize that people are feeling burned or hurt or pushed aside. Through our actions more than our words, I want you to know that this is a new day, and I look forward to working with our educators. Our job is to help support you so can be successful in helping children…

Question:

Due to the pandemic, some students are behind academically. What will you do to help get students back on track?

MC: Many of our students were significantly affected academically. But to get to that piece, we first need to get to their social and emotional well-being. It’s hard to learn if you’re grieving, or if your teeth hurt, if you’re hungry, or if you’re not sure where you’re sleeping at night. The pandemic created a lot of these issues for our students and families…

After such a traumatic experience, let’s make sure that the social and emotional well-being of our students and educators guides the decisions we’re making. People talk about the “three R’s,” but the most important is the fourth R—relationships….

After we support that, we focus on accelerating learning inside the schoolhouse, outside the schoolhouse, after hours. That could be in nontraditional forms. We need to be creative about that…

Question:

What is your plan to serve students with special needs and to fulfill the promises made to them at the federal level?



MC: I want to make sure [those] I bring in to the agency share my belief that our students with disabilities are first students who need to access the general education curriculum. They should not be defined as students with disabilities—they are students with abilities. They are assets, and they bring so much to the table. We have to shift to that way of thinking.

We need to ensure they have access to quality, tier one education first, and then look to specializing instruction. We need to ensure there is funding for IDEA. Special education teachers’ caseloads are too high to help students grow. Our regular classroom teachers haven’t had sufficient professional learning to help these students, and there is a lot we can do…

What policies do you plan to put in place to support all educators as expert professionals?

MC: Hopefully after this pandemic, there’s a newfound appreciation for the amazing work educators do day in and day out

First, we must pay educators what they are worth. It’s unacceptable that, in 2021, educators have to work a second job because their first job doesn’t pay enough. We need to value growth opportunities and professional learning opportunities. We ask so much of our educator’s—blended learning, trauma-informed instruction—and I want to make sure that ARP resources have job-embedded professional learning opportunities. Not those offered from 4 to 8 p.m., or three times a year where we cram everything in. Let’s reimagine what professional learning means.

We also need good “grow-your-own” strategies. How can we more systematically make sure education support professionals and more people of color become certified teachers so they can grow in their careers….

Question:

How will you expand and ensure access to more student debt cancellation, particularly for Black, brown, and Indigenous students, and ensure that public service workers have a clear pathway to the loan forgiveness they were promised?

MC: We can’t expect that college students take on this massive debt and be weighed down for rest of their lives. It’s unacceptable, and there are some students that are disproportionately affected by this.

We have done some things to help borrowers most in need. For example, there is now relief—$1.3 billion—for those who have total or permanent disabilities. We will continue to look at ways to help other borrowers with the most need.

In 2017, when public service loan forgiveness loans became available, 98 percent of those who applied were rejected. We need to do better.

At the end of the conversation, Pringle told participants that it was the first in many conversations NEA will have with Secretary Cardona to discuss his experience in public schools, his vision for learning, and the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities for our public schools and institutions of higher learning.

Watch a Recording of the Full Conversation with Miguel Cardona…

Posted in Mission, Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Looking ahead for the Coming School Year… Opportunities!

I feel like it is all coming back to me…

Graduating from the University of Florida in March of 1972… by April first…secured my first teaching position ninety miles away from Gainesville, at Browning Pearce Elementary, in Palatka…There were two campuses because of segregation, and now the schools were recently integrated… I was to teach on the second campus taking over the fourth grade where the teacher was moving to Tallahassee…

Our school had been allocated a federally funded grant, providing resources and services by the University of Florida for the many migrant children living in this low economic, potato farming community…

I was so determined to teach to make a difference.. These were exciting times….We had such Hope…

Surplus of teachers; programs and resources were available for children; Integration had been implemented….There were Headstart Programs and Title I schools…

Then a few years later I had the opportunity to teach closer to home, a school twenty miles away… I had the good fortune to be involved in an Early Childhood Preventative Curriculum Program for high-risk children…

We had fewer students, an aide, and a diagnostic, prescriptive curriculum…We were funded for about seven years…

The school was a Title I school which also received additional funds…And because this was a Title I school, I did not have to pay any of my college loans back!!!

And here we are today… Just through a Pandemic and a new President!!!

We have Hope once again!!!… Finally!!!

Budget Proposes Transformational Investments to Expand Access to Affordable Early Childhood and Postsecondary Education, and Prioritize the Physical and Mental Well-Being of Students


MAY 28, 2021
Contact: Press Office, (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov

Statement by Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget | U.S. Department of Education


The Biden-Harris Administration today submitted to Congress the President’s budget for fiscal year 2022. As the Administration continues to make progress defeating the pandemic and getting our economy back on track, the budget makes historic investments that will help the country build back better and lay the foundation for shared growth and prosperity for decades to come.

“This proposal reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensuring that student success remains at the heart of the Department of Education’s work. It calls on Congress to prioritize the physical and mental health of students and close education equity gaps, especially in underserved communities,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We need to focus on not only recovering from the pandemic but also look towards our students’ education after the pandemic to ensure there are improved resources to build our education system back better than before. This budget ensures all students have access to high-quality, affordable postsecondary education, while also improving career pathways for students of all ages and levels.”

The budget includes the two historic plans the President has already put forward — the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan – and reinvests in education, research, public health, and other foundations of our country’s strength. At the Department of Education (ED), the budget would:

Add at Least Four Years of Free Education. The American Families Plan will make transformational investments from early childhood to postsecondary education so that all children and young people are able to grow, learn, and gain the skills they need to succeed.
It will provide universal, high-quality preschool to all three- and four-year-olds, led by a well-trained and well-compensated workforce.
It will provide two years of free community college and invest in making college more affordable for low- and middle-income students, including students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) such as Hispanic-serving institutions and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions.
And, it will invest in our teachers as well as our students, improving teacher training and support so that our schools become engines of growth at every level.
Make Historic Investments in High Poverty Schools. Addressing entrenched disparities in education is both a moral and economic imperative. The budget proposes a historic $36.5 billion investment in grants for Title I schools, a $20 billion increase from the 2021 enacted level. This investment would provide historically under-resourced schools with the funding needed to deliver a high-quality education to all of their students, as well as meaningful incentives for states to examine and address inequities in school funding systems. These additional funds will advance the President’s commitment to ensure teachers at Title I schools are paid competitively, provide equitable access to rigorous coursework, and increase access to high-quality preschool.

Prioritize the Physical and Mental Well-Being of Students. Recognizing the profound effect of physical and mental health on academic achievement, the budget provides $1 billion, in addition to the resources in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to increase the number of counselors, school psychologists, nurses, and social workers in schools.
In addition, it provides $443 million for Full Service Community Schools, which play a critical role in providing comprehensive wrap-around services to students and their families, from afterschool, to adult education opportunities, and health and nutrition services.
Boost Support for Children with Disabilities. The budget includes $16 billion, a historic increase of $2.7 billion over 2021 enacted, for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to support special education and related services for more than 7.6 million Pre-K through 12 students. This is a significant first step toward fully funding IDEA and supports providing a high-quality education to children with disabilities.
The budget also provides $732 million for early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities, funding services that have a proven record of improving academic and developmental outcomes. The $250 million increase would be paired with reforms to expand access to these services for underserved children, including children of color and children from low-income families.
Enacting the budget policies into law this year would strengthen our nation’s economy and lay the foundation for shared prosperity, while also improving our nation’s long-term fiscal health.

For more information on the President’s FY 2022 budget, please visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/.

Our Hope and Opportunity for our Children…💞🙏🏻🌈🍎
Posted in Mission, Reflections, Thoughts About Children

What Should Children Learn about in History?..

Florida is now among a growing number of republican controlled states that are trying to suppress what our children learn about in the racial history of America…due to our Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis’ suppressive and prejudicial principles…

This is extremely dangerous…

We teachers have always appreciated developmentally appropriate curriculum, and relied on critical standards for our children…However when those in power start dictating a what and how to teach;

Our children will then develop a narrow view and suffer irreparable consequences…

A teacher is bound by professional ethics… When I taught, I was extremely careful not to project my points of personal, political biases with my children, yet teaching the facts about our history…I taught many children of all ethnicity and diversity…We learned to accept, celebrate and appreciate our differences…Moreover, learn America’s History…with clarity and appreciation…

Florida’s Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran…


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (News Service of Florida) – A proposed rule that will be weighed by the State Board of Education aims to control the way history is taught in Florida classrooms and not allow teachers to “indoctrinate” students, as part of what state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran called a “constant, vigilant fight.”

The proposed rule seeks to put strict guidelines on teaching U.S. history…

“Instruction on the required topics must be factual and objective and may not suppress or distort significant historical events, such as the Holocaust, and may not define American history as something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence,” the state Department of Education’s proposal said…

It also would require that any classroom discussion is “appropriate for the age and maturity level of the students,” and teachers facilitating discussions wouldn’t be able to “share their personal views or attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view” that is inconsistent with state standards…

The Board of Education will consider the proposal at its June 10 meeting at Florida State College at Jacksonville…

Corcoran touted the proposal during a recent speaking engagement at Hillsdale College, a private college in Michigan that regularly invites conservative speakers..

“You have to police them on a daily basis. It’s 185,000 teachers in a classroom with anywhere from 18 to 25 kids,” Corcoran told the crowd gathered at the event, titled “Education is Freedom.”

The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, opposes the proposed rule…

We’re passing a rule this coming month that says, for the 185,000 (Florida) teachers, you can’t indoctrinate students with stuff that’s not based on our standards, the new B.E.S.T. standards,” Corcoran said, referring to standards adopted by the state during his tenure…

The “Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking” standards were adopted after Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order in January 2019 to eliminate vestiges of politically unpopular “Common Core” standards…

Speaking at Hillsdale, Corcoran characterized the new standards as part of the “fight” to ensure progressive ideas aren’t pushed in the classroom…

“We rewrote all of our standards, we did all of that stuff, and then we do a book adoption,” Corcoran told the crowd. “And the publishers are just infested with liberals. And so we would have to say to them in our bid specs, we are not going to approve your bid unless … a certain percent of our reading list has to be in your text.”

“Florida isn’t going to equip students as critical thinkers by hiding facts. Students deserve the best possible education we can provide and the truest and most inclusive picture of their world and our shared history,” Andrew Spar, the union’s president, said in a statement Wednesday…

Spar also suggested that other aspects of U.S. history aren’t addressed in the proposal…

“If giving kids a good education is the goal, the rule could be amended to say in part: ‘Instruction on the required topics must be factual and objective, and may not suppress or distort significant historical events, such as the Holocaust, slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction and Jim Crow.’ Those who don’t learn history are destined to repeat it,” Spar said in the statement..

During his Hillsdale College speech, Corcoran fielded a question from an audience member about how he intends to address progressive ideas in textbooks and instructional materials. Part of Corcoran’s response indicated he expects the proposed rule will be adopted.Corcoran’s comments and the proposed rule came amid a push by DeSantis to eliminate what is known as critical race theory from classrooms. Critical race theory is based on the premise that racism is embedded within American society and institutions…

The governor criticized critical race theory during a media appearance in March, while rolling out a “civics literacy” proposal…

“It’s basically teaching kids to hate our country and to hate each other based on race. It puts race as the most important thing. I want content of character to be the most important thing,” DeSantis told reporters…

At Hillsdale, Corcoran also said he is working to weed out critical race theory from instructional materials…

“They hide it in … social-emotional learning. So, it doesn’t say critical race theory, but you could definitely have a teacher who teaches critical race theory,” Corcoran said…

Copyright 2021 WWSB. All rights reserved.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, shown speaking after the 2021 legislative session, has lent his support to proposals that would restrict the way teachers teach U.S. history in Florida’s public schools. [ WILFREDO
Posted in Mission, Thoughts About Children

School Choices Expanded .. affecting Our Public School Children…

All our children from diversity and a variety of socio economic factors; will be successfully educated at a public school…

Governor Ron Desantis signs into law…

The expansion of vouchers; thus giving more funds for school choice; and a stronger footing
on the privatization of our public schools…

Negatively impacting public school funding….oversight and accountability…

Charter schools are not held to the same rigors and standards that public schools must attain…

Moreover impacted a staggering loss of revenue, about $200 million will now be going to charter schools!!!

This is extremely biased..and grossly unfair to those children…who rely solely on a strong public school education…

Florida families to get more school vouchers as DeSantis signs $200M choice expansion
BY ANA CEBALLOS AND COLLEEN WRIGHT
MAY 11, 2021

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed into law a $200 million school choice plan that will pave the way for about 61,000 new students to become eligible for taxpayer-funded vouchers that will help families pay for private tuition and other education expenses.

The measure is a continuation of a decades-long push to expand school choice in Florida, a move Republicans support and most Democrats have fought as they advocate for more oversight and accountability for private schools that get state-funded vouchers. Legislators heralded the law as the largest school choice expansion in state history.

“All in all, there is going to be more opportunities for more students and more families in the state of Florida as a result of this legislation,” DeSantis said at a bill signing ceremony at St. John the Apostle Catholic School in Hialeah, the home parish of state Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah.

The governor signed the bill alongside Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, bill sponsors Diaz and Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, and lawmakers of the Miami-Dade delegation.. A crowd of students from the school, where about 85% of students attend through a state voucher program, greeted DeSantis with cheers and handmade welcome signs.

By signing the bill, DeSantis set in motion a massive expansion of school choice in the state that will also bring some changes to the structure of the state’s voucher programs, including those that serve students with special needs.

The measure, which takes effect July 1, will fold voucher programs for students with special needs — the Gardiner Scholarship and the John M. McKay Scholarship — into the Family Empowerment Scholarship, the state’s newest voucher program that served a broader population of low- to middle-income families.

This definitely is a sad day for our children here in Florida who rely on our public schools… Especially during this pandemic year…They have lost so much…How I am hoping with President Biden’s additional funds he is proposing for education…They will still have the necessary resources and programs to be successful!!!

Posted in Mission, Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Dreams do Come True…

In the many years I taught; dating back to 1972…

I began with such hope!

Children were a priority…Integration and Early Childhood Education were paramount…And Head Start began…

However, as the years passed, by the nineties I realized that due to changes at the Federal level: our public school children were less of a priority because they were losing the funding to privatization, and the resources needed to do all we could for our children were diminished…

Yet our expectations were unrealistic and we were being blamed…

There now was teacher accountability, developmentally inappropriate curriculum and over testing….Yet fewer resources…

And moreover since the new millennium…with all these drastic changes…. Dismantling of public schools…teacher shortage….Poor leadership… A Pandemic..

We are facing a crisis…

However, through all of these changes I always maintained there would be that better day!!!

And now with the election of a new President….we may see a change!!!

” Biden’s education plan: Targets inequity, expands federal role”…Laura Meckler and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel Washington Post

The federal government has long been a bit player in education… Under an expansive vision being rolled out this spring by President Biden, that would change…

Biden has proposed — or is expected to propose — a half dozen education programs that would constitute the largest federal investment in education in at least a half century. Any one of them would be significant on its own. Taken together, if approved by Congress, they form a cradle-to-college plan that aims to reduce inequities that course through American schools by infusing hundreds of billions of dollars into virtually every level of the system….

“These are truly unprecedented investments in education,” said Sarah Abernathy, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding…

Much of Biden’s strategy is focused on cold, hard cash, a show-me-the-money plan that would more than double federal support to high-poverty districts, rebuild crumbling schools and subsidize pre-K and community college alike. It’s excited educators up and down the system, but left some allies wondering if the administration is doing enough to use the money to drive policy changes by states and districts. For their part, Republicans oppose such sweeping new spending as well as the tax increases proposed to offset some of the cost…

Should Biden’s entire agenda become law, the U.S. educational system could morph from a 13-year guarantee — where children are entitled to free education from kindergarten through 12th grade — to a 17-year promise, where prekindergarten is available starting at age 3 and tuition is free through two years of community college…

“Think of it this way: Joe Biden is adding four years to a student’s education. It’s the largest increase in educational time since high school became universal,” said Rahm Emanuel, a longtime Biden ally who championed similar policies for early childhood and community college when he was Chicago’s mayor. Early-childhood education, he said, will prepare children to learn, while postsecondary programs prepare them for the workforce…

Biden does enjoy support for his education agenda among liberals, who are pushing him to aggressively confront educational inequity, and centrist Democrats, who like several pieces of this package…

“He’s investing in things like apprenticeships and community colleges and pre-K and all kinds of things that moderate Democrats love,” said Lanae Erickson, who heads social policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank. “There’s something in there for everybody in the party and that’s how he’s keeping folks on board.”Even when he had a Democratic Congress, Obama did not ask for this level of spending. After passing into law a recovery act meant to respond to the 2008 financial crisis, he telegraphed his interest in fiscal responsibility. At his first Cabinet meeting in April 2009, he announced that federal agencies would be hunting for cuts and efficiencies, saying he had challenged his secretaries to find $100 million in reductions…

Never give up on your dreams…

President Biden is determined…. making his Presidency consequential… Our children a priority; making our public schools stronger… Providing our children the success they so need…

Posted in Mission, Thoughts About Children

Our Schools…The Aftermath of the Pandemic…

Finally …

With our New President, Joe Biden and New Secretary of Education, Dr.Miguel Cardona allocating the much needed funds for schools through the American Rescue Plan providing resources and programs to help our children… Especially now living through this Pandemic…

We just may see the much needed change to our public schools…”a redesign”…A renaissance…

We will now have the monetary resources available;

To provide mental health support;

Better training for all educators, including bus drivers, cafeteria staff, everyone that engage with students, to understand the social and emotional needs of students…

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona Says Schools Have to Be ‘Redesigned’ Post-Pandemic

BY KATHERINE FUNG ON 4/14

Watch “Education Secretary Miguel Cardona Says Schools Have to Be ‘Redesigned'” on YouTube

The nation’s new education secretary is calling for schools to be “redesigned” after the coronavirus pandemic.

“We shouldn’t go back to the schools of March 2020—that’s a low bar,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a discussion with the founders of A Starting Point, a civic engagement organization.

“We have to make sure that our schools have stronger mental health supports, have better training for all educators, including bus drivers, cafeteria staff, everyone that engages with students, to understand the social and emotional needs of students,” he continued. “That has to be a prerequisite to getting our schools open quickly and safely.”

Cardona said the coronavirus relief plan signed into law by President Joe Biden last month will focus on redesigning schools so that students feel supported amid the ongoing public health crisis.

“The American Rescue Plan prioritizes funds and, really, prioritizes redesigning our schools,” he told Starting Point founders Chris Evans and Mark Kassen.

“We are in the middle of a pandemic, and our school systems have to be prepared to welcome our students back, not only with the academic learning needs that they might have missed but really to receive them and our staff after having experienced a traumatic experience like COVID-19,” Cardona said.

Biden’s relief package provided the U.S. Education Department with $122 billion to help reopen the majority of K-8 schools within the president’s first 100 days in office.

Miguel Cardona speaks after President-elect Joe Biden announced his nomination for education secretary on December 23, 2020. Cardona, who was confirmed by the Senate last month, said schools need to be “redesigned” to better help students return to in-person learning. Joshua Roberts/Stringer
Most of the nation’s schools shuttered at the beginning of the pandemic last year, moving instead to virtual learning, which presented its own challenges, especially among lower-income students who did not have broadband connection to the internet.

As schools began reopening in the fall, safety measures, such as face masks and social distancing, were implemented, but some districts faced pushback from educators who felt unsafe returning to work. In response, federal health officials stressed the importance of in-person learning by highlighting the toll online classes had taken on students and recommended that states prioritize teachers in their vaccination rollouts.

“We know there is no substitute for in-person learning. The biggest equity lever we have is providing safe, in-person learning options for students,” Cardona said. “We know, as much as we’ve worked really hard to get the laptops to connect and make sure there’s internet access, the relationship that students have with their peers and their teachers—there’s no substitute for that.”

Despite the return to in-person classes, the education secretary, who was confirmed on March 1, said the digital divide that was seen as schools scrambled to provide virtual lessons needs to be addressed by his department.

“The laptop is like the new pencil. It’s no longer a privilege. It’s no longer something that’s cool. It’s a necessity to be functional in today’s society and in today’s schools,” he said. “We need to close that digital divide across the country once and for all. It’s a finite problem to have, and that’s something that we need to make sure we’re focusing on as we reopen [schools].”

Cardona emphasized the importance of building up that infrastructure, pointing to Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plans, which includes $100 billion to expand broadband access across the country over the next eight years…

This will be a new beginning for our children…

Posted in Mission, Thoughts About Children

Children and Testing during a Pandemic…

Our children have been dealing with so much this past year…

And I believe, it is extremely wrong to expect them to perform their best when they take any standard test…this Pandemic year!!!

In addition to how well a teacher is doing…. teacher evaluations rely on this data…

And moreover, because of the big business of Educational Testing companies influence on education, government mandates that our children be tested…

It is unconscionable!!!

However…here in Florida…they are listening to parents, teachers, and those concerned for our children…

New order allows Florida high school seniors, 3rd graders to graduate without passing state exams…

Florida high school seniors will be able to graduate this year and 3rd graders can move on without passing the normally required state assessments, according to a new executive order signed Friday by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

Students everywhere have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic over the last year when schools closed and later reopened with virtual or in-person options.

Corcoran signed a new emergency order Friday that addresses a wide range of pandemic-related setbacks students have faced, including whether they take year-end assessments.

“Emergency Order-02 protects our seniors and empowers local school districts and schools to make the important decisions on graduation, promotion and whether to opt in to school grades and improvement ratings,” Corcoran said in a statement.

Gov. Ron DeSantis echoed those thoughts in a statement released by his office.

“Over the past year and beyond, Florida has led on prioritizing the education and wellbeing of our state’s students,” DeSantis said. “This emergency order will empower students, families and teachers with data on students’ progress and growth and provide them with the necessary tools to create the best educational experience for each individual.”

Under the order, school districts will be permitted to waive the state assessments required for graduation this spring on a case-by-case basis.

“Local school districts, in consultation with parents, are in the best position to evaluate the academic progress of each student and then make individualized decisions related to students progression and graduation in keeping with the best interest of each child,” the executive order reads….Even if they do not have an end-of-course exam….

Again, based on an individual basis, 3rd grade students will be able to move up to 4th grade without an English Language Arts assessment score or a Level 2 ELA score…

Those students will be promoted to the next grade “if the district is able to determine that a student is performing at least at Level 2 on the ELA assessment through the good cause exemption process provided in s. 1008.25, Fla. Stat., or other means reasonably calculated to provide reliable evidence of a student’s performance,” according to the executive order…

However, school districts are also required to begin remediation efforts with priority to students at risk of being retained for summer learning programs.

The executive order also addresses school districts’ concerns about school grades or ratings, which can impact funding.

Under Corcoran’s executive order, all schools will maintain their pre-pandemic grades unless a district opts in and applies to the Department of Education to have one or more 2020-2021 school grades recorded.

Schools participating in Florida’s voluntary prekindergarten education, or VPK, program will be required to have 200 hours of instruction for summer 2021 instead of the normally mandated 300, according to the order.

Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar released the following statement Friday in response to the order, saying teachers also deserve some grace:

“The new order lifts a heavy burden from our students. It’s only right that they should be exempt from dire consequences when they take standardized tests this spring. This has not been a normal school year, and a test should not cost kids the chance to graduate or be promoted. However, teachers did not get the same kind of consideration. Test scores still will be allowed to impose very real costs on them through their evaluations. The educators who have served Florida’s students throughout the pandemic also deserve to be shown some grace. They have faced unprecedented challenges this school year.”

My hope is that government put our children first…

Not big business, nor those who want to reform our schools without really addressing the needs of our children…Ask a teacher!!!

Posted in Mission, Thoughts About Children

Help is on the Way…For Our Children

This is a significant amount of money’: COVID-19 relief bill would send nearly $170 billion to schools..Jillian Berman

The Covid Relief Bill passed, and will now be enacted!!!

This is historic!!!
Our children will be able to get back to their routine of going to school, and being able to socialize with their friends…

They will be able to finally have the opportunity to receive an education they so deserve!!!

Our schools will have the necessary funding to provide the safety protocols, along with the ability to vaccinate all essential staff…And there will be the necessary funding to hire more teachers and staff!!!

What a dream coming true!!!

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and First Lady Jill Biden visit a school as part of the administration’s push to reopen schools.
MandelNgan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
As part of the COVID-19 relief bill passed by the Senate Saturday, schools from kindergarten on up will receive billions of dollars in funding…
The money comes as K-12 public school systems and higher education institutions grapple with how best to cope with the fallout of the pandemic on both their students and budgets. Public schools at all levels rely on state and local government money for funding, resources that could be squeezed by the pandemic inducted downturn…
At the same time, schools are wrestling with how to return to some semblance of normalcy as more widespread vaccination brings hope of emerging from the pandemic in the next several months…
If the bill is approved by the House of Representatives and signed by Biden, the roughly $170 billion lawmakers are sending to educational institutions could help with these efforts. It comes on top of the $82 billion they received in COVID-related relief Congress passed in December and the roughly $31 billion they received as part of the CARES Act passed in March…

Here’s what’s in the bill for schools: Kg-12 schools:
Lawmakers voted to send $128 billion to state and local education agencies, which mirrors President Joe Biden’s request for $130 billion for K-12 schools in the relief package he laid out in January.

“This is a significant amount of money,” said Terra Wallin, associate director for P-12 accountability and special projects at Ed Trust, an organization that focuses on education equity.“We think that it gets much closer to addressing the needs of schools than the previous relief packages have.”
Schools will likely use some of that money to work towards safe, in-person reopening…
School reopenings have become a flashpoint over the past several weeks as questions about whether Biden will meet a goal of reopening schools in his first 100 days and what exactly that means have surfaced…
The Centers for Disease Control issued guidelines last month on the safe reopening of schools, which outlined a tiered approach to in-person learning tied to COVID-19 transmission in the communityIn addition to the guidelines, the Biden administration has taken steps to push schools towards in-person instruction including launching a vaccination program for teachers in March and using the bully pulpit. On his second day on the job, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona joined First Lady Jill Biden on a tour of schools offering in-person instruction…

Though the Biden administration doesn’t have the power to reopen schools on their own — those decisions are made at the state and district level — the funding will certainly help. To re-open safely,schools may need to hire more teachers to offer smaller class sizes, redesign classrooms for social distancing, retrofit ventilation systems and more… But the funding provided is aimed at addressing more than just the immediate challenge of getting students learning in person…
Local education agencies have to use at least 20% of the funds, respectively, to deal with learning loss resulting from the pandemic…Schools could use this money on things like intensive tutoring, extending the school year through the summer, hiring more teachers, and more to address the learning loss students have suffered during this period, said Victoria Jackson, senior policy analyst on the state fiscal team at the the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank focused on the impact of budget and tax issues on inequality and poverty…
The bill also provides guard rails to ensure that the funding for students who likely have been hardest by the challenges of remote school — those from underserved communities, including low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities and others — is protected, Wallin said…

The proposal lawmakers passed Saturday is the first COVID relief package to include a maintenance of equity provision… The requirement means that if states and school districts have to make cuts, they can’t cut any more from their highest poverty districts and schools than the per-pupil average…“The idea here is that it requires that states protect the highest need or highest poverty district and that districts in turn protect their highest need schools,”Wallin said…

Higher education:
Congress will be sending nearly $40 billion to colleges and universities as part of the relief package. Though it’s less than the $97 billion, the AmericanCouncil on Education, a higher education lobbying group, estimated schools and students would need, they praised it as the “largest federal effort so far to assist students and families struggling to cope with lost jobs or reduced wages and colleges and universities facing precipitous declines in revenues and soaring new expenses.”Indeed, many colleges’ major sources of revenue — tuition, room and board, conferences, camps, parking and more — have been dinged as a result of the pandemic.

During the Great Recession, public colleges in particular struggled with cuts to state funding, “but colleges just didn’t lose revenue to the same extent,” as over the past several months, said Robert Kelchen, an associate professor of higher education at Seton Hall University.“The big challenge for colleges is they’re not replacing the revenue they got from not having students on campus,” he said...Colleges across the country have made cuts in staff and Programs to cope with the lost revenue, Kelchen noted. At the same time, they’ve spent money on COVID tests, technology and other infrastructure necessary to try and make campuses safe. If the bill becomes law, a lot of the money colleges receive from Congress “will be used to backfill what they’ve already spent,” Kelchen said.At least 50% of the funds colleges receive will have to go directly to students for emergency financial aid...The pandemic and accompanying down turn has put up obstacles in the way of attending and completing college, particularly for the most vulnerable students.

The relief package requires that colleges spend some of the money they receive on outreach to students to let them know they can get more financial aid if their circumstances have changed… The bill also allocates $91 million to the Department of Education to reach out to students and borrowers about financial aid and other benefits for which they may be eligible.

JillianBerman covers student debt and millennial finance. You can follow her on Twitter @JillianBerman.

Posted in Mission, Thoughts About Children

States Still Must Give Standardized Tests This Year, Biden Administration Announces

This decision to leave it up to states is not a strong message for our children…Our children have been living through this Pandemic for a year…Their physical, educational, emotional lives have been disrupted…

Having the additional stressor of a standardized test…I question what would such a test measure???

Give our children time to get back to a stable routine before .. measuring their educational growth…

States Still Must Give Standardized Tests This Year, Biden Administration Announces….

By Andrew Ujifusa

Updated

States will not be allowed to cancel federally mandated standardized exams this school year despite the pandemic, though they will be offered significant flexibility in how they give those tests and how they’re used, the U.S. Department of Education informed state education leaders Monday.

In a letter to states, the department said that it will not invite state requests for “blanket waivers of assessments” required by the Every Student Succeeds Act; states received such waivers last spring. However, the department said it would allow states to administer shorter versions of state exams in English/language arts, math, and science, or let states administer exams this summer or even into the next school year.

The Education Department also told states that it will allow them to seek waivers from federal requirements for school accountability, including the mandate to identify certain low-performing schools, for the 2020-21 school year. Such flexibility would include a waiver from the requirement that states test 95 percent of eligible students…

“It is urgent to understand the impact of COVID-19 on learning,” Ian Rosenblum, acting assistant secretary in the office of elementary and secondary education, wrote to states. “We know, however, that some schools and school districts may face circumstances in which they are not able to safely administer statewide summative assessments this spring using their standard practices.”

Rosenblum said states would still have to publicly report data by student subgroups, as required. He also specifically encouraged states to extend the testing window for English-language proficiency tests.

Rosenblum did not give a deadline for when states would have to seek flexibility from accountability or other requirements. However he also said the department recognized that “individual states may need additional assessment flexibility based on the specific circumstances.” He added that in such cases, the department “will work with states to address their individual needs and conditions while ensuring the maximum available statewide data to inform the targeting of resources and supports.”

Whether to let states cancel these exams has been a major question looming over the Biden administration. Leading Democrats for K-12 policy in Congress and others have said the tests are crucial to informing educators about how students have been affected by the pandemic. Yet teachers’ unions and some Republicans are among those who have pushed for students and schools to be let off the hook when it comes to these exams. States like Michigan and New York have sought testing waivers from the department for this spring.

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/biden-introduces-miguel-cardona-education-secretary/

During his confirmation hearing, Miguel Cardona, President Joe Biden’s nominee for education secretary, said that assessments are crucial to learning where students stand but did not take a firm position one way or the other on letting states cancel them. Before his nomination, Cardona, Connecticut’s education commissioner, told his state last year that he planned to press forward with annual state exams. Cardona has not been confirmed by the Senate.

Last year, former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said her department would not grant blanket testing waivers for this year, although that position no longer mattered after President Joe Biden won the November election.

In response to Monday’s news, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called the decision not to grant waivers a “frustrating turn” of events.

“It misses a huge opportunity to really help our students by allowing the waiver of assessments and the substitution, instead, of locally developed, authentic assessments that could be used by educators and parents as a baseline for work this summer and next year,” Weingarten said.

Becky Pringle, the president of the National Education Association, encouraged states to apply for the waivers being made available, but also disparaged the value of the state exams during the pandemic: “Standardized tests have never been valid or reliable measures of what students know and are able to do, and they are especially unreliable now.”

Meanwhile, Carissa Moffat Miller, the CEO of the Council of Chief State School Officers, indicated support for the department’s approach to assessments this year.

“We appreciate that the Department will provide flexibility on how to administer statewide assessments and modify accountability systems as state leaders manage the continuing effects of the global pandemic,” she said. “In addition, we are pleased that the Department has committed to working with states that may need additional flexibilities.”

Posted in Mission, Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Safety First…Our Children #VaccinateTeachers

#vaccinateteachers

School Personnel Lost To Covid…

@LostToCovidObtained from public sources…

Current number people

posted: 1,008

Of those, died since:

Aug 1: 653

Oct. 1: 571

Dec 1: 394

Fauci: ‘Non-workable’ to vaccinate teachers before schools open…

However recommend…Not a requirement!!!!

Very disappointed…

They really do not know …life in a classroom…

Just looking at data…Does not reflect what dangers lie in an unfunded classroom…

I would only recommend powers that be, work in a classroom…with twenty plus young children…

Most schools are poorly ventilated…lacking the staff to make routine visits to sanitize and clean surfaces…

From my many years teaching … Teaching through flu and even pneumonia…

It is extremely challenging to manage socially distance, masked young children… Through out a day…

Teachers are always expected, even blamed…

This would be the right time to protect our teachers and essential staff…So our children will be safe to attend school…

💕🌈🙏 🍎