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John Thrasher strikes again

from Tampa Bay.coms gradebook

by Jeff Solochek

Florida teachers union decries new legislation as 'retribution'
Florida state Sen. John Thrasher, the Jacksonville Republican who sponsored last year's Senate Bill 6, filed a bill today that would ban payroll deductions that would be used for political activity, including contributions to candidates and tax-exempt organizations.

Employees would be able to request a refund of union dues used for political activity, unless that employee has specifically authorized such a use of the money. The bill also would prevent public employers from collecting dues of employee organizations from payroll.

The Florida Education Association quickly attacked the legislation.

"These actions are nothing more than retribution directed at FEA and other labor organizations for using our democratic right to support or oppose legislation in Florida, particularly last year’s SB 6," FEA president Andy Ford said in a release. "Of course, w…

On the backs of the old, the poor, the disabled and children, Rick Scotts budget

From TampaBay.com

by Mary Ellen Klas

Highlights of Rick Scotts budget

Education
* Cuts the education budget by $3.3 billion by slashing $703 in per pupil spending. That money would be offset the first year by $403 per student with one-time federal money; the cut is a 10 percent reduction in this year's $6,899 in per-pupil spending.
* Increases the amount spent on private school vouchers by $250 million in 2012.

State workers
* Cuts 8,600 jobs statewide, 8 percent of the workforce
* All 655,000 school district employees, state and county workers in the Florida Retirement System would be required to contribute 5 percent of their salaries to the state pension fund beginning July 1, 2011, saving $2.8 billion over two years.
* Beginning in July 2012, all state employees would receive $5,000 in health insurance regardless of family size.

Medicaid
* Proposes $3 billion in reductions over two years, including $1 billion in cuts to provider reimbursement rates. Savings are expected by rece…

Genuine Education Reforms Ignored for Fads

From Education Week, Teacher

by Anthony Cody

With state budgets falling short tough choices are being made for our schools. In spite of all the "students first" rhetoric, the way the various alternatives are being framed says much more about the ideology at work than what research and experience shows to be the best for children. Here are some genuine education reforms that, for some reason, have lost favor with lawmakers and their wealthy sponsors.

A recent study showed that school programs that target social and emotional learning yield significant benefits in terms of student learning.

Compared with their peers, participating students also significantly improved on five key nonacademic measures: They demonstrated greater social skills, less emotional stress and better attitudes, fewer conduct problems such as bullying and suspensions, and more-frequent positive behaviors, such as cooperation and help for other students. Also, the effects continued at least six months af…

Rick Scott: Billions with a B, in cuts to education

From the Miami herald

By Mack Caputo

EUSTIS – At a highly partisan tea-party event, Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his first budget proposal that makes good on his promises to slash the size and spending of government.

Scott proposed spending almost $66 billion -- $4.6 billion less next budget year compared to this year. Scott also wants to eliminate nearly 8,700 state positions, many of them filled by current state workers.

Though cutting those state jobs would add to the state’s unemployment rate, Scott indicated that the best way to grow the state’s economy was through his “jobs budget” that shrinks state government and cutting nearly $1.4 billion in property and corporate-income taxes.

“As long as 1.1 million Floridians are out of work, we can't afford a government that runs wild with taxes, regulations and excessive spending,” Scott told the enthusiastic crowd of a thousand conservative activists.

“Reviewing a governmental budget is much like going through the attic in an old home.…

Michelle Rhee to speak to legislature, I wonder if she will mention tape

This not local Florida teachers is who Rick Scott is turning too for help. -cpg

From the Huffington Post

by pete Zucker

Sorry if I am late for the party. I'm thinking back to September when I posted on Twitter about a speech Michelle Rhee had made at the Columbia Heights Education Campus in Washington DC.

Rhee before a gathering was recounting her early days as an educator and the miscues that we all have made. I recall, now with a smile, of sending thirty-five fifth graders to the closet at once at dismissal time.

According to audio made by Rhee at the CHEC and reported by Alexander Russo and the Washington Post, Rhee said she, "took little pieces of masking tapes and put them on everybody's lips." At this point in her story the crowd laughs. She goes on to explain that, "their skin is coming off and that they are bleeding," and the crowd still is laughing. This is just wrong.

So why after three months or so of this being reported am I finally sharing m…

The Middle Class pays for Rick Scotts tax cuts

Have you noticed how the middle class is supposed to foot Rick Scotts cuts? -cpg

from the Miami Herald

BY DAVID SMILEY, KATHLEEN McGRORY, CARLI TEPROFF AND JULIE BROWN

Hal Krantz says it has been years since he brought home a pay raise. After 16 years of teaching, the married Coral Springs Middle School instructor with a daughter in college is struggling to stretch his salary while meeting the soaring costs of healthcare, food and other necessities.

Gov. Rick Scott's plan to compel public employees like Krantz to kick in as much as 5 percent of their paychecks into their pensions is causing quite a bit of angst. This is particularly true of teachers, who traditionally earn modest salaries offset by a broad benefits package, but also state workers, many of whom have not received pay raises in years.

The proposal is included in the budget that Scott will unveil Monday at a rally of tea party supporters in the Lake County community of Eustis.

Employees say the pension measure is th…

What Floida's Education Savior (sic), Michelle Rhee did In Washington D.C.

From the Washington Posts Answer Sheet

By Rachel Levy

Here's what a lot of people are saying about Michelle Rhee as they sort out her legacy as chancellor of Washington D.C. public schools: Her policies were right on target and she moved city schools forward, but her big problem was simply that she didn’t play well with others. This assessment is wrong. Her reforms weren’t good policy, and criticism that her hard-charging style stifled her own well-intentioned reforms, such as is made here, misses the point.

Rhee's ideas about how to fix the ailing school system were largely misinformed, and it's no wonder: She knew little about instruction, curriculum, management, fiscal matters, and community relations. She was, to be sure, abrasive; she and Mayor Adrian Fenty, admitted as much here. But as education historian Diane Ravitch has said, "It’s difficult to win a war when you’re firing on your own troops.”

Rhee is the national face of the new brand of education reformer…