Posted in Mission, Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Where are Those Fun October Days?… It’s Time to #BeKind…

In the many years of my teaching… I realized October was one of those favorite months for children…We had our daily routines down; teaching those required ki learning activities…And now by October, I could have activities centered around this glorious season…

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” ...
~ L. M. Montgomery, “Anne of Green Gables” ~

And here we are in present day… I am so concerned with this year, 2021…October school days

With a pandemic and such discord in our Country; Such resistance in doing what’s right for our children! They are back in school, opportunities await…

Yet, School Boards are now under attack…And they need federal protection…

School Boards are reaching out to Biden: Protect Us!

‘America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat,’ the leaders of the National School Boards Association said, citing sometimes violent backlash against COVID-19 policy, critical race theory and more…

In addition, communities are experiencing teens acting out with vandalism challenges directed to high schools… influenced by social media…

Our children are dealing with so much….And they are looking for escape and attention in the wrong places…

It is Time to #BeKind…for our children… They are listening, watching, and learning from us…

💕🙏🏼🌈🍎🇺🇸🌍

Posted in Mission, Thoughts About Children

#AlachuaTogether…Our PreciousChildren…

So very proud and inspired by the voices of our children from my former district in Alachua County, Florida; advocating for their own health and safety; trying not to get Covid…

This message from them should inspire all of us to wear that mask…and get vaccinated for our children…

#DemandBetterFL

Please listen to their message advocating for themselves… Their lives…

#maskup #vaccinate

Posted in Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Memory Lane…

Florida Educator…38 years …Retired 6 years…

7 years today …My last teaching year … Idylwild Elementary….

Praying for our children being a priority…

Starting in Palatka April Fools Day…1972… traveling 90 a day just to teach…


Alachua…1973-Assistant teacher
1974-1989
Terwilliger… 1989-2002
Idylwild…2007-2015
“38 years”…

I pray our children, teachers, essential staff…
Are safe.. learn lots, and have fun…

💞🌈🙏🏼😷🍎

#OurChildrenMatter
#teachersrock
#essentialstaff

Posted in Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Summer…2021…

Summer can be a lonely time for our children…

This challenging school year has ended for most children… Some may be attending summer programs…


Yet, so many of our young children will be missing that needed routine of attending school…

To them, school is their refuge; getting that love and attention from teachers, school staff, and classmates …maybe the only love they receive…

Our children in need…

In addition, they may also be dealing with food insecurity…And they rely on our free breakfast and lunch programs… Hopefully, many of our communities continue providing meals for those children…

That I lose sleep at night worrying about my students. How can I be a better teacher, role model, and leader? —Sarah H…

We as teachers know our children…And even during the times away from the classroom…So worry about those special children…

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

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.”