What's going on in our children's schools?
What you don't find out from the fliers in the backpacks is what's going on at the state and national level that can have a big impact on how our children learn, how they are tested and how changes to the public school system will affect them.
The bottom line is that individual schools are virtually powerless to stray from the course set by lawmakers in Tallahassee, or Washington, D.C. With the Florida Legislature set to convene on Jan. 10, it's a good time to catch up on what's happening with "education reform."
Among the issues:
• School funding: Gov. Rick Scott made deep cuts to the education budget last year and has vowed to restore some of the funding this year.
• Testing and teacher pay: The Obama Administration has offered grants to states through its "Race to the Top" program to implement performance-based pay for teachers. A big component of teacher performance is student test scores - a controversial issue fraught with complications. (Read an in-depth report on this at MiamiHerald.com).
• Charter schools: How much money - and freedom from the oversight and rules that govern traditional public schools - will likely be a hot topic during this year's session. A recent Miami Herald investigation found that "Florida’s charter school movement has grown into $400-million-a-year powerhouse backed by real-estate developers and promoted by politicians, but with little oversight." Read that report at MiamiHerald.com.
How to keep up with all this? Here is a list of sources to follow to stay informed on what's happening locally and nationally, with some perspective.
Read The Miami Herald's Schools page online to keep up with what's happening in Miami-Dade and Broward.
Read the State Impact Florida blog, a National Public Radio Project, to keep up with statewide education issues.
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Charlene Pacenti, mom of two, is the editor of MomsMiami.com and Education Editor for The Miami Herald.