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Testing is still not teaching

Jan 10, 2013

By Dan


Regarding the Education Week report:
Getting straight A's for having lots of tests is not the same as getting A's on the tests. Weighing a malnourished dog every day doesn't make him any better. Until folks in Tallahassee understand that testing is not teaching, we will continue to celebrate mediocrity at the expense of true achievement.

More...       ~ 2 Comments

FCAT debacle proves change in order

May 15, 2012

By Dan


Today's announcement that over 70% of Florida students failed the newly calibrated writing FCAT means either our school system has horrible problems teaching, or our Department of Education is filled with idiots. Either way, change is in order.
More...       ~ 9 Comments

When did underpaid schoolteachers become public enemy #1?

Mar 24, 2011

By Dan


Nope, instead the Governor today will sign a bill that is intended to index their pay to their students' performance mostly on the FCAT and eliminate their job security in the name of weeding out "bad" teachers. Later this month the Legislature will pass a budget that cuts perhaps as much as a billion dollars from an already bottom of the barrel education budget.

It is indeed a cruel hoax that SB 736 promises pay raises with everything but the pay or the raise.

More...       ~ 3 Comments

A shot of reality about high school performance

Dec 7, 2010

By Dan


While I hate to rain on anyone's parade, as a parent with three kids headed in the direction of Florida's high schools, I think it's counterproductive to mask deficiencies with illusory successes.
More...       ~ 14 Comments

I resent this misadventure

Apr 15, 2010

By Dan


Parents and teachers (and ultimately kids) are not suppose to have to prod and pressure, and even pray, hoping the Governor will ultimately protect them from their own legislature. That energy is suppose to be spent on Smart Walks, and on tutoring, and in parent-teacher conferences, and bake sales and in the multitude of activities that make our public school mosaic special and uniquely American.
More...       ~ 3 Comments

Veto SB 6 - Kids Version

Apr 12, 2010

By Dan


My kids and some friends and cousins decided to make their own case for veto of SB 6. My children are the type that absolutely love their teachers (I wish they behaved as well for us) and they have been hearing about SB 6 at school and, of course, at home. Here is their work-product…
More...       ~ 1 Comments

Sorry to rain on the graduation rate parade

Dec 4, 2009

By Dan


The sad truth is that the answer to abysmal graduation and drop out rates is not to find new ways to calculate rates, but rather to find out why our poorly funded schools have trouble keeping kids engaged through graduation.
More...       ~ 1 Comments

A righteous suit over education funding

Nov 18, 2009

By Dan


The fact is you pay for a cheap education forever, and until that truth is accepted by lawmkers we will continue to shortchange our kids. I do think it is unfortunate that Attorney General Bill McCollum refused to file a school funding lawsuit as I urged him to do last month. Frankly, it is unfair to hope that public interest groups, or parents take on such a monumental task. It is the job — no the duty — of the Attorney General to make sure our Constitution is enforced, even if it means taking on the Legislature to do so. As Attorney General I will not hesitate for a moment to bring or join such a lawsuit.

More...       ~ 2 Comments

A Call Out to Palm Beach Parents and Teachers - Testing is not Teaching!

Oct 21, 2009

By Dan


A call out to my Palm Beach friends from "testing is not teaching," and the CTA — good luck today. Your issues over testing and education policy are not unique to your county and many parents of public school kids, like me, all over Florida will be rooting for you.
More...       ~ 2 Comments

My promise to public education

Oct 19, 2009

By Dan


Over the weekend I was in Orlando to receive the FEA "Champion of Education" Award. It was especially gratifying because my middle child Hannah went on a "field trip" with me and I know she was proud of her Daddy. I don't believe there is a more important battle in Florida than the fight to create a school system that is high quality.
More...       ~ 2 Comments

Public Schools Need a Champion!

Oct 6, 2009

By Dan


Today I asked Attorney General McCullom, formally, to commence a lawsuit against the Legislature and the Governor challenging the adequacy of Florida's public education budget. I believe the current budget violates the Florida Constitution and its requirement that the legislature fund a school system capable of providing a high quality public school system. With three kids in public school, I know too well how much this lawsuit is needed.
More...       ~ 7 Comments

First day of school

Aug 24, 2009

By Dan


Today is the first day of public school for my three kids who all attend the same K-8. For my youngest, Max, it's his first, first day in kindergarten. My kids are always nervous the first day of school. New classrooms, and new teachers and classmates should make any kid anxious. But it's a nervousness filled with optimism - everyone starts with A's, clean clothes and perfect conduct. Get back with me in 9 months and I'll tell you how it ends.

More...       ~ 3 Comments

Service Day 14 & 15 - Building a Library in Liberty City; Reading to kids at the Salvation Army

Jul 11, 2009

By Dan


This morning a few friends and supporters worked to help create a library in the Liberty Square Community Center in Liberty City. Liberty City is Miami's oldest housing complex and the area is surrounded by some of the county's most struggling schools and economically challenged neighborhoods.
More...       ~ 3 Comments

Service Day Eleven: Writing letters to veterans with elementary schoolchildren

May 17, 2009

By Dan


Service Day Eleven brought me to Macfarlane Park Elementary School in Tampa. What a great school. It's a magnet IB school (International Baccalaureate). The kids are incredibly engaged in learning and Principal Rivero and her team really get kudos for their efforts. Over the last three months the kids have participated in their own 100 days of service.
More...       ~ 3 Comments

Short Update on the Legislative Session

Apr 8, 2009

By Dan


The legislative session has reached its mid-point and the dominating issue continues to be the economy and its impact on Florida's budget. There seems to be general agreement - after an initial phase of chest thumping - that the federal stimulus money will be embraced and not rejected. (In fact, the chant quickly went from "we don't want your money" to we "want more of your money.")
More...       ~ 9 Comments

Holding education harmless: getting past semantics to a real definition

Mar 24, 2009

By Dan


But the promises to hold education harmless have become about as reliable as Octo-mom's assurance she isn't just looking for a book or movie deal.
More...       ~ 2 Comments

Let's take the long view

Feb 18, 2009

By Dan


I spent the last few weeks in depressing budget hearings, listening to state economists and experts tell us the grim news. Florida's losing jobs faster than anywhere; our mortgage crisis is equally distressing; nearly 2 million of our fellow residents are on food stamps; and all indexes suggest more bad news is on the way. The stimulus money will help some, but Florida's issues are more acute than anywhere.

It is in that backdrop that our instinct could be to simply worry about the short term.
More...       ~ 5 Comments

Fighting a fiscal crisis with one hand tied behind our back

Dec 31, 2008

By Dan


But how much is there left to cut, and what does that say about past leadership? Are we to believe that the self—professed anti—government Governor Jeb Bush, or the Republican dominated legislatures of the last decade have left that much fat and inefficiencies such that we can get through this crisis by simply cutting services? If so, someone has a lot of explaining to do. And how smart is it to put thousands of people out of work in the middle of a recession when Florida's unemployment rate is already closing in on 8%.

More...       ~ 2 Comments

Florida's freefall isn't going away.

Nov 11, 2008

By Dan


To put it in more basic terms, our state's cash flow resembles a family teetering on the edge of financial chaos. A family that can no longer meet its core needs of shelter, food and basic necessities. So in order to pay for expenses, the parents are paying for their utility bills on their credit cards, spending down the kids' college funds, and not going to the dentist and doctor to take care of nagging health care issues that will only worsen. And the possibility that mom or dad may lose their job is also a reality.

More...       ~ 2 Comments

No time for champagne or hubris.

Nov 4, 2008

By Dan


People don't want one side's excesses replaced with the other's. They don't want revolution, they want reform. This isn't a mandate for one party's politics as much as it is a mandate for less party politics. People don't want hubris, they want change.
More...       ~ 5 Comments

Tell me your school budget cut story!

Oct 10, 2008

By Dan


Last week my web site opened up a portal to receive and post stories about how school budget cuts are impacting public education in Florida. The promise by Republican elected officials to "hold education harmless" has become a cruel joke (sort of like "I'm from the government and I'm here to help.").
More...       ~ 11 Comments

Thank Heavens for South Carolina!

Sep 13, 2008

By Dan


When it comes to man—made statistics Florida didn't do as well.
Our Estimated Public High School Graduation Rate in 2007 was ... 50th. Again. This statistic hurts the most but Florida's 53% trailed everybody (South Carolina was second to last with a 56.3%). If it's any consolation the District of Columbia was actually worse than Florida but, then again, they aren't a state.
More...       ~ 2 Comments

Good riddance to TBRC Amendments

Sep 4, 2008

By Dan


Today the Supreme Court tossed off the November ballot measures 5, 7 and 9 as proposed by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (I was a nonvoting member of the TBRC). I have argued against these measures and believe that they would have had a devastating impact on an education system that is already being ripped apart by budget cuts. I think Floridians want our public schools fixed not privatized.

More...       ~ 4 Comments

Labor Day 2008: We're eating our seed corn

Sep 2, 2008

By Dan


The Center for Labor Research and Studies at FIU just published their annual Labor Day report, "The State of Working Florida." It is a statistical review of the state of Florida's workforce and economy. For most Floridians, they do not need a data—laden report to tell them just how bad things are. They know first hand that our state is rapidly morphing from a mid—wage low—cost state, into a low—wage high—cost state. Still the data put together by the FIU team is instructive. It reflects that in virtually every category - wages, income, health care, pensions, work force investment - Florida is last or nearly dead last of the fifty states. And it also shows how Florida has failed to diversify its economy in ways that would make economic downturns less painful for our residents.
More...       ~ 4 Comments

I got a "D"

Aug 27, 2008

By Dan


Former Governor Bush's education foundation handed out grades today. As reported by AP, Republicans got mostly "A's" and Democrats mostly "D's" and "F's". Utterly silly. The grading system fully marginalizes whatever credible work his foundation is doing as it betrays the group as nothing more than a voucher group.
More...       ~ 4 Comments

Board of Education seeks more money for K-12

Aug 19, 2008

By Dan


Today, the Florida Board of Education asked for a $1 billion increase for Florida's K—12 public education funding. You might think that such a request would be obvious given that Florida spends less per capita on education than any other state. Or that with Florida's worst in the nation high school graduation rate a call for more resources might be plain as day. But the painful truth is that despite the compelling need for more funds for education, rarely has a Republican administration said they need more.
More...       ~ 4 Comments

2-5-7-9 these are the measures to decline.

Jul 22, 2008

By Dan


In November you will have nine (9) amendments on the ballot. One was placed on the ballot by the Legislature, another measure through the citizen initiative process, and the remaining seven (7) by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (on which I was a nonvoting member). Here is my primer to all the amendments, along with recommendations and a little attitude.
More...       ~ 2 Comments

Celebrating mediocrity in Florida's public schools

Jul 9, 2008

By Dan Gelber


The folly of the school grading system is that it is indexed to only minimal competence and, therefore, declares success upon reaching an absurdly low water mark. The real problem is that because school grades have become so important, all the other things that matter are wholly ignored. Florida schools have made the steadfast pursuit of mediocrity their singular goal, sadly at the expense of true achievement.
More...       ~ 2 Comments

Happy New (Fiscal) Year

Jul 1, 2008

By Dan


Unfortunately, the indexes we rely on to predict our future revenue suggests there is still more rock to dig through before we hit rock bottom. Gas prices are not coming down (and the wrongheaded offer of our coast for oil drilling won't change that one iota); the housing crisis is not going away; our workforce wages are not improving (especially considering the unwise budget cuts to education); and our hurricane insurance policy only works if we never have a hurricane.

More...       ~ 2 Comments

Florida's public education

Jun 23, 2008

By Dan


The greatest irony, perhaps, is that last week the nonpartisan Milken Institute, an independent economic think tank released their report comparing how well states are performing in the knowledge—based economy — Florida ranked 37th (an 8 slot drop from 2002) which strongly suggests that all the "reforms" have made things worse, and the very dumbest thing Florida should do right now is curtail investment in our public education system.
More...       ~ 2 Comments

Memo to Governor Bush re: Education Summit

Jun 19, 2008

By Dan


TO: Governor Bush
FROM: Dan Gelber
RE: Your Education Summit

Good luck today as you begin your National Summit on Education Reform. I see you have invited some serious people to Orlando to discuss education policy - lots of very right—leaning conservatives, but some moderates as well. While I often disagree with aspects of your education policy, I always commend your appetite for debate and agree with your statement "reform is never finished, success is never final." My hope is that your conferees spend more time engaging a critical evaluation of our public education system, and less time declaring successes that are illusory.

More...       ~ 5 Comments

Lawsuit filed against TBRC voucher amendments

Jun 13, 2008

By Dan Gelber


This morning, the Florida Education Association, the Anti—Defamation League among others filed a lawsuit for temporary injunction in Leon County Circuit Court, challenging the placement of proposals 7 and 9 on the November ballot by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. These amendments diminish the barrier between church and state (proposal 7) and deceptively enshrine vouchers in Florida's Constitution (proposal 9).
More...       ~ 1 Comments

Taxation Commission violated fundamental fairness of voting franchise

Jun 3, 2008

By Dan


The TBRC leadership will argue that they had the power to combine measures. While I disagree, it's a sorry defense that doesn't make it right. While I recognize that Governor Bush (the invisible hand responsible for the measure) and others may be honestly passionate about school—vouchers, it is less than honest and unbecoming for those given power and a public trust to intentionally try to trick voters. If former Governor Bush believes he is right on the merits and on principle, than he should support putting the measure up for a fair debate and an up or down vote, rather than resorting to chicanery to prevail.
More...       ~ 1 Comments

Blame the Republican Legislature (especially in November) - Part I (Education)

May 15, 2008

By Dan


My favorite is "we are just making the tough choices that any family would make in hard times." Yeah, right. I can just imagine my wife's reaction if I told her that I wanted to cut the kids' education to make sure I didn't have to turn in my Miami Heat tickets. That would go over well.
More...       ~ 1 Comments

More Pain than Gain

May 5, 2008

By Dan


Well, you can let the kids out of the cellar, the 2008 legislative session is over. Though my colleagues did somehow find the time to debate whether truck ornaments should be regulated or evolution was reliable enough for Florida's science classes. Florida's budget crisis dominated the 60 days as we tried to navigate what to do with a nearly $6 billion cut from last year. While the air was rich with metaphors ("we have to tighten our belts"), they ultimately did find the courage you might have expected: they forced bedridden seniors, the developmentally disabled and public schoolchildren to bear the brunt of the cuts.
More...       ~ 1 Comments

The TBRC: The Bad and the Ugly

Apr 25, 2008

By Dan


Today the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission went further off the tracks and voted out various proposals it had no business addressing. It both was bad and ugly.
More...       ~ 1 Comments

A matter of principle.

Apr 20, 2008

By Dan


For my caucus, the choice was clear. When you are in the minority the only thing you have is your voice. When the Majority party decides that they do not want your voice to be heard, and when they resort to procedural machinations to stop you from speaking, they are taking away the only tool you have to fight for the people you represent and the principles you cherish. If we had permitted the Republicans on this occasion (and on this issue) to just decide that they did not want us heard, than we would have acquiesced to silencing our voices.
More...       ~ 6 Comments

Lock the women and children in steerage; don't scuff the wingtips!

Apr 11, 2008

By Dan Gelber


Yesterday the House sent its budget over to the Senate. The debate went as predicted (see "Budget Debate" post from 4/9), the vote was party line, and the cuts reflected what any good captain of a sinking ship might do (lock the women, children and seniors in steerage; put the corporate bigwigs on the lifeboats without scuffing their wing tipped shoes). The Republicans directed billions in cuts mostly from services provided children, sick children, infants, sick infants, school children, abused children, seniors, sick seniors, and dying seniors.
More...       ~ 1 Comments

Who are they looking out for?

Apr 3, 2008

By Dan Gelber


By leaving the issue of taxpayer—funded corporate pork off the table, we are failing to give Floridians real choice. For example, why are we choosing between children's health care or Hospice care when there is another choice: closing the loophole that allows multi—state corporations to avoid paying their fair share?
More...       ~ 8 Comments

The divide between church and state takes a hit

Mar 26, 2008

By Dan Gelber


Today, Florida's Taxation and Budget Reform Commission on a divided vote agreed to put on the November 2008 ballot a measure that would significantly diminish the separation between church and state that Floridians have enjoyed for over a century, and pave the way for expansion of school voucher programs.
More...       ~ 5 Comments

O for 2, but all the wiser

Mar 20, 2008

By Dan Gelber


Tallahassee is a two party town and increasingly so the Republicans - especially my colleagues in the House - are becoming more and more partisan. Ideas are no longer as important as who proposes them, and principles are malleable depending upon who they are being used to bash. I think many of us have a skill set that makes it easy to respond in kind to rank partisanship. Sometimes it even feels good. But it is better, no it is necessary, that right—thinking public officials resist the impulses of their lesser demons. I will do my best, but I am not perfect and sometimes I find myself rolling around with pigs. When you see it happening, please remind me to get up, wash myself off, and do what my better angels might command.

More...       ~ 5 Comments

Searching for solutions to a fiscal crisis

Mar 18, 2008

By Dan Gelber


Florida is in the midst of a fiscal crisis. Due to plummeting state revenues we have been forced to cut billions from the current budget year, and have been told by state economic forecasters that we will be cutting billions from next year's budget. Although we can hope the bad times end soon, because Florida's economy is so premised on housing and construction, it is unlikely we will see the light at the end of the tunnel for at least another budget cycle.
More...       ~ 5 Comments

State of the State Response

Mar 6, 2008

By


Tuesday night I delivered the Response to the Governor's State of the State. The Governor is an optimistic person who tends to shy away from partisanship — but Florida's challenges are great — and I'm not sure I trust the Republican Legislature as much as he does.

Here is my response to the Governor:

Good Evening, I'm
More...       ~ 5 Comments

New Science Standards: A Missed Chance to Evolve

Feb 19, 2008

By Dan Gelber


I don't want a science teacher explaining and refereeing the tension between science and religion. As a parent of public school children, I prefer to have my children learn about faith and religion in our home and synagogue, not in our public schools — and definitely not from the government.

Video of my commentscan be found at: www.associationstudios.com/gelber
More...       ~ 1 Comments


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Sen. Gelber debates against two amendments to HB 1143 that took aim at a woman's right to privacy



Final Video Message from Tallahassee: 2010 Legislative Session was guided by ideological frolics and a politically driven agenda


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