Friday, December 17, 2010

Controversial school reforms in California and Florida

California Governor Jerry Brown
California: Edited from LA Times article: See orignal here: Education fills big space on Brown's chalkboard -

California's Governor-elect Jerry Brown plans some controversial changes in the Californian education system. Education is the biggest component in California's upcoming budget. Schools are being confronted by a lack of funding that threatens to further harm students' education. Schools' financial health is intricately tied to the state budget because roughly 40% of it is earmarked for K-12 education. California's per-pupil spending is now lower than that in nearly every other state, resulting in widespread teacher layoffs, the cancellation of summer school, the shortening of the school year and the overcrowding of classrooms.

The outgoing state superintendent of public instruction, Jack O'Connell, attributes the three point increase in the dropout rate (now 22%) to some extent on the 2008-9 budget cuts — leading to fewer counselors, fewer classes in music and the arts, less career-technical education," said Jack O'Connell.

Florida Governor Rick Scott
Florida: [Edited from Yahoo News article]
Newly elected Florida Governor Rick Scott is making waves with his proposal that all children should receive education vouchers they can use to attend private, public or charter schools.

The Republican Governor-elect said "The parent should figure out where the dollars for that student are spent. So if the parents want to spend it on virtual school, then spend it on virtual school. If they want to spend it on, you know, whatever education system they believe in, whether it's this public school or that public school or this private school or that private school, that's what ought to happen."  

There is one major hitch: The Florida Supreme Court has ruled private-school vouchers unconstitutional, concluding that they endanger the free public school system. Many educators agree that vouchers endager the quality of public schools as a hallmark of a democratic society. While some argue that free school choice might lead to a healthy competition and increase school quality, others point out that there is no clear evidence that private schools can lead to better performance than public schools.

Besides introducing education vouchers, Scott is also expected to tackle teacher tenure and institute a new teacher evaluation system partly based on student test scores.

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