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a fear (long)


From: Patricia Knott (pknott_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Jun 26 2003 - 13:40:08 PDT

I started a grad class today on "Issues in Education" and I'm going to use
this article and the reactions I'm reading as my first assignment tonight.

I just went back and reread the article because I'm surprised by some of the

Florida high school students might miss that opportunity under a new state
law that gives them the option to graduate in three years by skipping
physical education, arts classes and most electives.

``They're trying to do the same amount of substantive stuff in a shorter
amount of time, said Frances Marine, spokeswoman for the state Department of

In core classes such as math, science and English, the three-year plan's
course load is similar to the traditional path. But students only need to
earn 18 credits instead of the typical 24, making up the difference by
eliminating almost all enrichment classes. Students would still need to
maintain a 2.0 grade point average and pass the Florida Comprehensive
Assessment Test to earn a diploma.

That's curious to me because my district has just increased the amount of
credits needed to graduate
( to avoid kids languishing in study halls) with a .5 requirement in the
fine or performing arts. That, to me, is logical.

The three-year plan was signed earlier this month by Gov. Jeb Bush, one of
more than a dozen programs designed to shrink average class size to comply
with a new constitutional amendment.

``There are too many high school seniors walking around taking two study
halls and three lunch periods because they collected all their required
course work and GPA before their senior year ever began, said Frank Brogan,
president of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and the former
lieutenant governor who helped draft many of Bush's education reforms.

All I can say is I don't trust anything any Bush does.
My district has also recalculated how the GPA is determined so that taking
an elective that is not weighted does not hurt the average.

As far as giving kids the opportunity for early admission to college
-well that is questionable
The fast track could also affect college admissions, especially at more
selective schools. The three-year graduates could still enroll at Florida's
11 public universities, but private and out-of-state schools might not give
those applicants equal weight.
''It could hurt them in a selective admission process,'' said Daniel Walls,
dean of admissions at Emory University in Atlanta. ``I think you would get
very similar responses from any of the other top 25 highly selective
universities: not a blanket statement against considering these students,
but we would have to look at it very closely.
I think the key to this article and what makes it scary is this statement
> In a region with high poverty and high immigration, Melton added, some
> families are more likely to press their teenagers into the workforce as soon
> as possible.
and especially this
> Heavy enrollment in the three-year track would also force the districts to cut
> back on the number of teachers and the range of courses offered, Toural said.
> If registration for arts classes drops dramatically, for example, several
> schools might share a single dance or music teacher.
> ``It's going to devastate the elective program, the vocational courses and the
> fine arts, Toural said.

Imagine if this idea takes hold-- takes hold with all those districts
nationwide facing budget crisis and building needs-----
The issue also has a powerful political undertow by virtue of being
associated with the controversial class-size amendment. Some opponents of
the three-year plan -- especially the teachers union that opposed Bush --
said it is a cheap way to reduce class size without hiring more teachers or
building more classrooms.
''They believe they have caught the parents sleeping, but when they wake up
it will be a political mess of proportions unseen in this state,'' said Mark
Richard, administrator of the United Teachers of Dade union.
---- so where the heck was the union in this decision making?

This proposal is not about getting the smart kids to college earlier
it's about getting them all out sooner and cutting staff. If you
don't know, the biggest expenditure in every district is staff salaries and

If we start sending kids to college sooner what is the implication for
Higher Ed?

Patti in Fla. says she is tired of fighting the advocacy fight and I can
sympathize with her. Seems that's all we do is advocate. I fully understand
the economic issues of the public system today
but I also truly believe that there is some kind of conspiracy to keep the
masses dumb and controlled.
this Florida initiative is the stupidest thing I've seen in a long time
but then again this is the state that couldn't count ballots