Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs/PTSAs
Advocacy and Legislation
The Time is NOW to Renew our Call for Increased K-12 Funding for 2015-2016
MAY 17, 2015
Dear PTA/PTSA Member,
It’s definite: the Florida Legislature will meet in Special Session from June 1-June 20, and the K-12 budget will be on the line as the House and Senate try to reconcile their differences over health care funding and–simultaneously–provide tax cuts that they will be able to point to during 2016 election campaigning.
Both chambers will be under pressure to pass a new state budget by July 1, or face a state government shutdown. The regular 60-day Session ended on May 1 without a budget deal after the House adjourned abruptly three days early.
Governor Rick Scott’s proposed budget called for an increase in K-12 funding to $7176 per student, or $50 above Florida’s previous high. It is important to note that even at the $7176 level, Florida will still remain well below the country’s average. According to a recent release from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average spending per student across the country totaled $10,608, with New York standing as the most generous at $19,552 per pupil.
Our students deserve more, and now is the time for our elected officials to hear from us!
TAKE ACTION EVENTS
On Monday, June 1, when our state legislature reconvenes, we ask that you send an electronic message to Senate President Gardiner and House Speaker Crisafulli. They need to hear from parents, educators, students, and community supporters regarding student funding. A sample e-mail is provided here:
Dear ___________________ (President Gardiner/Speaker Crisafulli),
As a concerned Florida ______________ (parent/educator/student/ citizen), I am counting on you to uphold the Florida Constitution to provide a uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system of free public schools and appropriately fund public education in the interests of Florida’s children and the economic viability of Florida’s future workforce. Please pass Governor Scott’s budget recommendation for an increase in per student funding to $7176 for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
Contact information: Please send your message to Senate President Andy Gardiner (gardiner.andy.web@flsenate. gov) and to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (steve.crisafulli@ myfloridahouse.gov).
On Wednesday, June 3, please tweet President Gardiner and Speaker Crisafulli to urge their support for the $7176 per student funding level. We would appreciate it if you include the hashtags #PTADayofAction and #EdFunding in your message. A sample tweet is provided here:
@SteveCrisafulli @FLSenate Support @FLGovScott education budget proposal. Fund K-12 at $7167 pp level. #PTADayofAction #EdFunding
Contact information: Please tweet to @FLSenate and @SteveCrisafulli
For a complete list of bills to be considered during the Special Session, please click here.
We know that you are your student’s best advocate. Please let us know if there is any issue that you would like us to highlight further.
Nancy Lawther, Legislation Chair
Mindy Gould, Advocacy Chair
Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs/PTSAs
Miami Dade County Council Executive Board Says “Suspend FSA Test Accountability”
After hearing compelling testimony from parents and teachers, the Executive Board of Miami Dade PTA/PTSA voted during its March 2015 meeting to ask the Florida Board of Education and the Florida Legislature to suspend accountability measures linked to this year’s FSA test.
For months, we parents, teachers, students, school personnel and administration have expressed numerous concerns regarding the new Florida Standards Assessments (FSA). Our concerns have been overlooked and now, we have little, if any, faith left in the remainder of this year’s tests.
The first week of testing proved that the state moved too quickly to administer this high-stakes test. Many issues occurred during week one, and many issues remain. For example:
1) Software glitches prevented many students and test administrators from logging onto the system, causing many districts to temporarily suspend the testing.
2) A significant percentage of students were not able to complete the testing because of technical issues.
3) Hundreds of Central Florida’s students taking the writing portion of the ELA exam had their essays lost. Some have been recovered, but not all.
4) A so-called cyber attack late in week one of the test resulted in some “white screens” when students logged in, further disrupting testing.
5) The online system momentarily stopped during testing for some students, making them fear their essays had been lost. Some work reappeared. Some vanished.
6) Was the test compromised? Some students were able to log onto the exam and read the question, known as a “prompt.” Others were not. Days later, when testing resumed, were the students who were able to read the prompt able to prepare their answers, causing the test to be compromised?
7) With the computer-based reading and math testing starting in April, tests that are more interactive (computer maneuvering needed) than the writing test, students with limited exposure to technology will be at a disadvantage.
Current state policies based on this year’s FSA test results include retaining 3rd graders who do not pass the test; withholding graduation from high school for 10th grade students who do not pass the language arts exam; state grades for public schools; and teacher evaluations.
Yesterday the Senate Appropriations Committee took one small step in the direction of common sense: it amended CS/SB 616 (Education Accountability) so as to unlink 3rd grade promotion and high school graduation from this year’s FSA test results. At the same time, the amended bill provides for the notification of parents whose children perform poorly so that they can better work with teachers and school administrators to boost learning in the coming year.
CS/SB 616 will be heard April 1 on the Senate floor, where it can be amended once again. The Executive Board of Miami Dade County PTA/PTSA does not believe that accountability should be derived from the results of a single test, particularly one whose implementation has been so flawed.
We respectfully call upon the Senate to take the next step–the right step. While informing parents, teachers, and school administrators of FSA results when they become available, suspend all accountability measures based on 2014-2015 student performance.
Dear Parents, Teachers and Staff,
We will be having our General PTA Meeting this Wednesday at 8:30am in the school cafeteria, as always we would like to invite you all to attend. During our PTA General meetings we discuss many topics that relate to our school and go over fundraising results, budgets, needs and wants, upcoming events and any other additional items on the agenda. Coming to our meetings is the best way to keep yourself informed.
We are currently looking for new members to join our team for the next school year, if you or someone you know is interested please reach out to one of our Board Members for more information.
Look forward to seeing you all this Wednesday!