Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nefarious Plan still opposes Class Size Reduction

by RW Spisak

They just can't seem to keep a good idea entirely throttled.

Jeb Bush, our too recent, unlamented governor, couldn't stand providing adequate funding for schools, and promised a NEFARIOUS PLAN to defeat the Public Mandate. Wait a tourist robbing minute, the public had spoken loud and clear, education in Florida sucked. A BIG Crowded part of the problem was class sizes which reached the high forties and fifties, and that was in classrooms sized for 20 to thirty students.

My son, took a history class in a Miami Dade County high school in a standard size room which didn't have enough chairs, desks or books, for the 48 students confined in it. The teacher used a microphone and a guitar amp to give his lecture over the noise of 48 students in his 20' x 20' room. The teacher explained it was the only way he could be heard.

The public had been incensed, with overcrowded unmanageable class sizes which started in high schools, and crept quickly down to even elementary schools. Jeb couldn't stop it, so he talked it to death. Finally it's time to get it done, and we have more excuses. It will require funding!

Now the excuse is money, we can save money says the latest committee of NaySayers... We can save MONEY, precious MONEY, (not precious young scholars) BUT MONEY!, if instead of counting class sizes, by actually counting the actual class size. They've proposed counting class sizes by counting averages, averaging class size over a district. But, if that fails, maybe they'll count over a region, or over a continent. But by all means, lets not waste the public's money on students.

So if you have a few limited classes with a handful of students, that will then excuse class sizes of 40 or 50 student units. And, in case you didn't know, Fire Department restrictions on the number of people for a given room size, do not apply to Schools. Lucky Students! They can keep each other warm, by breathing on each other.

The quality of Florida's education not only reflects... shall we say a frugal, penny-pinching, miserly, and absent-parent approach to funding, but that's not to say, there haven't been improvements. Just last week, Florida Science teachers are now able to use the word.... E-V-O-L-U-T-U-T-I-O-N as long as they genuflect, cross themselves and spin around twice, then spit, and say... just a theory, just a theory, just a theory?

So, don't say there hasn't been progress. But let us, Florida Parents, once and for all, put an end to the Jeb's UNDEAD NEFARIOUS PLAN and quit trying to change the Public Mandate, for smaller class sizes. Floridians know that children are our future, they need reduced class sizes, as experienced by actual students in actual classrooms.

Don't let the ghost of JEBBUSH's Legacy continue to throttle the public desire to make AN ACTUAL IMPROVEMENT in Florida's Under-Funded Schools. Don't let them GUT Bright Futures Scholarships either.
Tear out those dangerous poisonous, lingering Bush Roots strangling Florida's Scholars.

Additional Resouces

Look Here for Excuses
"Starting with the 2008-09 school year, individual districts must meet new size caps in each classroom, robbing school officials of the wiggle room they enjoyed during the phase-in period, when school systems were allowed to use districtwide and then schoolwide averages in calculating class sizes. The new requirements mean that districts must reduce pupil-teacher ratios in every classroom to 18-to-1 in prekindergarten though 3rd grade, 22-to-1 in grades 4-8, and 25-to-1 in high school, or face financial penalties..."

An Alternative View (People for the American Way)
Despite signing the bill, the governor is still pushing to repeal Amendment 9, stating: “If people want to change their minds, I will be there with my support and my vote.”75 In August 2003, the state Board of Education voted to support repealing part of the amendment. While the board supported smaller class sizes in kindergarten through grade three, they suggested repealing smaller class requirements from grade four onwards. All seven Board of Education members are chosen by the governor.76

Taking his cue from the Board of Education’s decision, House Speaker Johnnie Byrd (R-Plant City) is touting a ballot initiative asking voters to limit the class size reduction plan. Bryd has stated that he would eventually like the class size measure to be removed from the state constitution and instead have the issue be discussed in the legislature.77 Similarly, in October, State Senator Burt Saunders (R-Naples) began a public petition drive to partially eliminate Amendment 9.78

Governor Jeb Bush’s administration claims high costs of the class size reduction program as a reason for repeal. Education Commissioner Horne claims that the money saved by repealing Amendment 9 would be spent on teacher salaries, reading specialists, and technology and career preparation for high school students.79 But in fact, the state could adequately fund the program by eliminating a number of special interest loopholes and corporate tax breaks. The state loses an estimated $23 billion annually in sales tax revenue due to special interest loopholes and existing exemptions for things like adult entertainment, escort services, skyboxes at sporting events, and ostrich feed. Additionally, corporate tax breaks cost the state nearly $430 million in annual revenue.80 And in the last four years, Governor Bush has ordered $8 billion in tax cuts.81 In addition to all this, voucher and tuition tax credit programs cost the state millions more each year. Jeb Bush’s administration has failed to consider repealing special interest exemptions and corporate tax breaks, thereby freeing up hundreds of millions of dollars which could be used to make education a top priority in Florida.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

No Get Out of Jail card, for a White House Gone Wild!

2/24/08 rw spisak

Homeland, Security and the Constitution come together in the Issue of the FISA revisions now under consideration.

Are FISA rules too constraining for the current Executive? Who never saw a law, the couldn't "sign-away!" Maybe even in 2008, oversight is still a Constitutional Duty, and the baby of Privacy must not thrown out with every splash of color on the Threat Matrix.

Congressional Oversight, cannot really be given away. The war on a few international terrorist criminals cannot result in the dereliction of responsibility. Oversight cannot be outsourced to the Vice President's office.

Defend the Constitutional Principle of Congressional Oversight on issues of Spying and International Agreements or Treaties. Do not give the Executive Branch a blank check drawn on the Bill of Rights. Congress is not empowered to abandon it's responsibilities.

Congressman Klein, remind your colleagues in the House, you cannot abandon the responsibility of OVERSIGHT. Do not support the current FISA Bill. Its not TELCOM Immunity they are asking for it's Immunity of Whitehouse Gone Wild!

The retroactive "Get-Out of Jail Card" is not really for the TelCom's but for the White House Color-Coded NEOCONS. No Rendition for the Bill of Rights.

solidarity & peace

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mudrasslin fer Science in the "Sunshine" State

The Orlando Sentinel, has an article today hoping to explain the brutal irrationality of the Florida Education Bureacracy's decision.. du jour

Why are they even talking about Evolution in Tallahassee? The article by Ms. Sentinel Staff Writer opens with this statement.
Florida's State Board of Education is to vote on proposed new science standards at its meeting Tuesday, including a first-time proposal that would require Florida students to learn about evolution. The standards serve as a statewide blueprint for science education, but the evolution component has generated a loud and passionate debate.
Why is Florida's State Board of Education even talking about Evolution in Tallahassee?
Because they've been dodging the question to the detriment of Florida scholars for decades.
And because Florida got an "F" on a National Review of science standards in 2005.

The National Science Teachers Association recognizes the problem stating:
"NSTA also recognizes that evolution has not been emphasized in science curricula in a manner commensurate to its importance because of official policies, intimidation of science teachers, the general public's misunderstanding of evolutionary theory, and a century of controversy. In addition, teachers are being pressured to introduce creationism, “creation science,” and other nonscientific views, which are intended to weaken or eliminate the teaching of evolution."

Recognizing that we must not abandon science educators to easily intimidated bureaucrats, the NTSA calls for the participation of parents and the enlightened community at large, to rally in support of the teaching of science, not religious superstition in the science labs of today's public schools.

"Parental and community involvement in establishing the goals of science education and the curriculum development process should be encouraged and nurtured in our democratic society. However, the professional responsibility of science teachers and curriculum specialists to provide students with quality science education should not be compromised by censorship, pseudoscience, inconsistencies, faulty scholarship, or unconstitutional mandates.:

Since the changes proposed in the language have been perceived as controversial, by using the word Evolution, it has been tempered for the readily confused, by the addition of the phrase "scientific theory of" whenever the word Evolution is used. Since few of those educated in Florida are familiar with science, this feeble attempt to paliate those unfamilar with the term theory may succeed. Evidently this is "mis" understood, as somehow taming the otherwise incorrigible word... Evolution.

Evidently the Orlando Sun Sentinel is still testing the waters, it hosts a poll, that after a days, participation of it's online readers, Evolution is favored 65.1% to 33.4%. Would a poll conducted on the general theory of relativity, offer the same hope for it's continued inclusion in the physics curriculum. Ms. Postal still prepared to give equal time to the Flat Earthers, reveals that some simple folk still with us, believe;

Some think creationism and intelligent design have merit, too."

Although some may believe the Universe rests entirely on the back of an Elephant, which stands on the back of a giant Tortoise, or perhaps that it was the result of a really nasty sneeze from the Nostrils of the Great Green ArchalSeizure, as is taught in the Final Book of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it like Creationism just doesn't cut it as a Scientific Theory.
[Theory -
a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena]

Coming down the home stretch Ms. Postal poses the $64,000 question.

"Is it a battle of religion vs. science?

Not necessarily. Though many opponents say evolution runs counter to their religious beliefs, many of those in favor say they are religious and find no conflict between evolution and their faith. Nationally, the Clergy Letter Project has collected signatures from more than 11,000 Christian clergy who say "evolution is a foundational scientific truth." On the other hand, many of those pressing Florida's board to reject the new standards are members of Christian organizations or churches.

Once again, the ancient evil arises from the muck of superstition, will religion hold fast the gates of ignorance and bar the door from that impertinent UPSTART Science? Ask Galileo, before he was humbled by the Inquisition. Ask Copernicus, if the earth moves round the sun, or was he confused by data and the siren call of the scientific method...

Again, reason pitted against it's bloody fossil foe, superstition. Are we still doomed, in an age of space travel, and sattlelights and highspeed world-wide web ... Is it really Scopes all over again? Maybe the dragon will eat the sun, tonight? But maybe, just maybe it be resurrected in the morning?

NOTE: You can watch the Bureaucrats and the Flat Earthers and a hopefully some scientists not educated in Florida, mudrassle for science - live and streaming Tuesday online at the Orlando Sun Sentinel.(Hearing starts at 8am)

RW Spisak Jr.