Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

August 17, 2013

St. Marcus Marches to Demand Acquisition of Malcolm X Building From MPS

Filed under: MPS Buildings,Privatization,Vouchers — millerlf @ 2:33 pm

August 17:  35 staff, students and supporters from St. Marcus Lutheran School marched from their campus at 2251 North Palmer to the Malcolm X school site at 2760 N 1st Street. There they held a prayer vigil.

blog 1blog 2Their demand? MPS should sell the building to St. Marcus even though the MPS board has been engaged in a planning process for the site for over a year.

Is the urgency by St. Marcus due to the fact that the board is getting close to finalizing its proposal?

Following is a resolution that will be considered by the board this month.

                                                                      ACTION ON A REQUEST TO ADOPT RESOLUTION 1314R-­004 BY

DIRECTORS BONDS AND MILLER REGARDING A COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTER

Resolution 1314R-­004

By Directors Bond and Miller

WHEREAS, MPS incurs costs for the maintenance and upkeep of its buildings, even when they are unused and vacant; and

WHEREAS, A vacant building, no matter how well maintained, is not only a wasted resource, but also a detriment to the neighborhood in which it is situated; and

WHEREAS, Administrative Policy 5.01(8)(e) states that vacated school buildings owned by the Board shall be used for other purposes, if economically feasible; and

WHEREAS, At its regular meeting on August 30, 2012, the Board, in response to Resolution 1213R-­‐002 by Director Bonds, directed the Administration to develop the Community Partnership Shared Facilities Program, through which space in our vacant buildings is to be rented — for nominal fees, such as the cost of the utilities — to community-­‐based organizations which would provide free services to MPS students and which are non-­‐profit 501(c)3 organizations that have been in existence for five years or longer, or are government agencies, or are universities, colleges, or other accredited post-­‐secondary educational institutions; and

WHEREAS, The MPS-­‐owned building located at 2760 N. First Street, which housed the former Malcolm X Academy, has been vacant since 2007; and

WHEREAS, The community surrounding that site is in great need of a resource center that could provide educational, cultural, neighborhood, and recreational programming and services; and

RESOLVED, That the Board designate the former Malcolm X Academy’s facility at 2760 N. First Street as a Community Resource Center which will provide educational, cultural, neighborhood, and recreational programming and services to the surrounding community; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board direct the Administration to develop an educational plan identifying the educational program or programs that are to be offered by the Center; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board direct the Administration to work with the community to identify the shared resources desired for its new Resource Center; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board direct the Administration to develop a contract for the coordination of services and for the management and oversight of the Center; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board direct the Administration to report to the Board by November 2013 with a plan to implement the creation and operation of this community resource center; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, The community resource center is to open in the Fall of 2014.

July 30, 2013

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August 1, 2013

Florida School Chief Resigns Following His Role in Indiana Charter School Controversy

Filed under: Charter Schools,Mitch Daniels Indiana — millerlf @ 11:05 am

Florida education commissioner Tony Bennett resigns

By Steve Bousquet, Kathleen McGrory and Jeffrey S. Solochek, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau Thursday, August 1, 2013

TALLAHASSEE — Tony Bennett resigned Thursday as Florida education commissioner following two days of raging controversy over school grading in his home state of Indiana.

“I don’t think anything should distract us,” Bennett said in a late morning news conference. He praised Gov. Rick Scott for his leadership and support and said he ends his tenure “with my head held very high.”

Bennett, who came to Florida from the HoosierState in January, has faced mounting calls for his resignation in the wake of revelations, first reported by the Associated Press, that he interceded on behalf of an Indiana charter school run by a prominent Republican Party donor.

Bennett was hired to overhaul Florida’s system of school accountability and assessment in compliance with the national Common Core standards.

“I’m saddened by Commissioner Bennett’s departure,” state Board of Education member Sally Bradshaw wrote in an email to the Times/Herald. “This is a loss for Florida’s students.”

The Florida Department of Education has had a revolving door of leaders during Scott’s 31 months in office. Including Bennett, there have been three different education commissions and two interim education commissioners.

Bennett, a nationally recognized education reformer, came on board after losing re-election in Indiana.

His tenure encountered some early bumps in June, when superintendents leaned on him to institute a “safety net” to prevent school grades from dropping dramatically. Bennett had some misgivings, but ultimately conceded.

The exercise sparked a statewide dialogue about the validity of school grades, which dipped despite the padding. One member of the state Board of Education questioned if the state had to release grades at all.

Amid the controversy, scathing emails published by the Associated Press showed that Bennett had made changes to the school grading formula in Indiana after learning that a high-profile charter school would be awarded a “C” grade.

“They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work,” Bennett wrote in one email.

The formula was tweaked and Christel House received an “A.”

Bennett has denied that the decision was motivated by politics. He said he ordered the change because Christel House lost points for not having a graduation rate, despite only enrolling students from kindergarten through 10th grade.

A dozen other schools benefited from the change, he said.

“It is absurd that anyone would believe that I would change the grade of school based on a political donor, or based on trying to hide a school from accountability,” Bennett told reporters Tuesday. “It’s fictitious, at best, and it’s totally unfounded. What we did do is make sure we were getting a transparent policy right for Indiana schools and Indiana schoolchildren.”

Bennett is a longtime ally of former Gov. Jeb Bush, whose Foundation for Florida’s Future has driven education policy in Florida for the past decade. He is active in Bush’s coalition of state education leaders, Chiefs for Change.

Bush could not be reached for immediate comment.

Bennett’s departure could prove problematic for the already unstable education department.

Andy Smarick, former deputy education commissioner for New Jersey, said a key to successful school accountability is continuity in leadership and coherence to a strong plan.

“It just doesn’t help a state to keep changing leadership,” Smarick said, noting Florida’s five leaders in less than three years. “It’s hard for districts and schools to latch onto a meaningful, lasting plan.”

He suggested that Florida will have a tough time finding a new schools chief, given the constant churn since Scott’s arrival.

“People qualified to be state chiefs take very seriously the political environment in the states they are considering,” Smarick said. “They know changes in elections, changes in state boards, can leave them quickly without a job. That’s an issue.”

Mike Petrilli, editor of the Education Next reform journal, agreed that finding another high-flying commissioner would be difficult for Florida.

“Good luck with that,” Petrilli said.

State Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg, R-Trinity, said he believed Bennett’s departure was the right thing for Florida if it means maintaining integrity for the state’s accountability systems.

Legg said questions about Bennett’s actions in Indiana could darken Florida’s efforts.

“We need to move forward to eliminate any question of improprieties,” Legg said, stressing he had heard no accusations that Bennett had acted inappropriately in recent grade formula changes in Florida.

Legg did not worry about finding a new commissioner.

“Florida is a dynamic state where things are cutting edge,” he said. “I imagine we will be very attractive for the next person they interview.”

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho urged state leaders to focus on policy.

“As long as we fixate on the who, the what goes unfixed,” Carvalho wrote in a statement. “There should be no celebration of the commissioner’s resignation. For our children’s sake, let’s get accountability right.”

Contact Kathleen McGrory at kmcgrory@MiamiHerald.com.

Florida education commissioner Tony Bennett resigns 08/01/13 [Last modified: Thursday, August 1, 2013 11:09am]

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