Welcome to Learning is for Everyone of Tampa

LIFE of Tampa welcomes everyone, of all races, ethnicities, religions, family compositions, sexual orientations, learning styles, lifestyles, abilities and disabilities, and asks only that rules of civility, kindness and compassion be honored by all, for all.

This homepage and our online discussion group serve as an announcement and resource list for a variety of activities and events.

Visit LIFE of Florida for a great list of statewide and general learning resources.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

St. Petersburg Times: Don't cut back on online courses, Florida Virtual School supporters say

Read the complete story, by Jeffrey Solochek, at the St. Petersburg Times:

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A proposal to scale back Florida's successful virtual school has incurred the wrath of the powerful homeschooling community and drawn national scorn from education reform advocates.

"Virtual schooling is one of the really promising innovations that has happened in K-12 in the past 10 years, and Florida is the leading state," said Bill Tucker, managing director of the Washington D.C., nonpartisan think tank Education Sector. "That's why some of these proposals in the Legislature are really puzzling and troublesome."

The Senate wants to cut as much as 15 percent from Florida Virtual School's $116 million annual budget. Lawmakers also want to reduce the types of courses the school offers, and limit the number of alternate providers that could step in to fill the void.

Visit http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/article996232.ece to read the rest and comment.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Huffington Post: Don't Stifle Florida's Education Innovation

In Don't Stifle Florida's Education Innovation, the Huffington Post adds its voice to the chorus of Florida residents trying to preserve the integrity and value of Florida Virtual School:

Florida has been a leader in education innovation over the last decade, but one bill currently under review by the state senate's Policy & Steering Committee on Ways and Means--Senate Bill 1676--threatens to wipe much of that out with one misguided and foolhardy swipe.

In its present form, the bill restricts the Florida Virtual School (FLVS)--one of the bigger policy and public education innovation success stories--in such ways that, as its president, Julie Young, said, "[it] would drastically impact our long-standing commitment to support the educational needs of all students of this state."

This would be tragic, as FLVS possesses many of the hallmarks of an innovation that has the opportunity to help transform public education from its present monolithic, one-size-fits-all form into a far more student-centric experience. ...

Complete story at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/clayton-m-christensen-and-michael-b-horn/dont-stifle-floridas-educ_b_187325.html

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Florida Virtual School Update and Call for Comment

Dear FLVS Supporters,

As you know from recent news reports and from internal updates, the budget passed out of the House removes the support we receive from the class-size reduction amendments. Some state leaders are making the case that we do not need this support because we don’t have four walls; others are claiming that by providing this support to us is akin to double dipping. If we cannot communicate to our state leaders the importance of this funding, the proposed House budget will have a dramatic impact on FLVS operations.

Can you help us by reaching out to state leaders to help them better understand how class-size supports both virtual and traditional classrooms?

The budget passed out of the Senate would limit FLVS to the core courses, removing electives like AP Computer Science, Personal Fitness, and many more. The Senate proposed budget also limits funding for students removing the after school and summer choices for students who want to accelerate or make up credit. If we cannot communicate to our state leaders the importance of these choices for Florida students and parents, the proposed Senate budget will have a dramatic impact on FLVS operations.

Can you help us by reaching out to state leaders to help them better understand the importance of the choice options for elective courses and taking courses in addition to the regular school day?

Please FAX your letters to your local representatives and senators and to as many others as possible. Fax numbers are listed below.

Florida Virtual School- FLVS

http://www.flvs.net

Office: 386.478.4201

Cell: 386-569-1675

FLVS 407-513-3587

fax: 1-888-771-5641


To find your local legislators:
http://www.flsenate.gov/Legislators/index.cfm?Members=By+Last+Name

http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx


Click on Image for clearer, enlarged view




Sample Letters:

Below you can find the sample letter for the House and for the Senate:

Sample letter to members of the House of Representatives:

Dear XXXXX,

I’m writing out of concern about the recent budget passed by the House that would cut a substantial portion of Florida Virtual School’s financial support. From what I understand the House, and possibly the Senate, are considering deep cuts for FLVS, including taking away the support the program receives for class-size reduction.

As you may well know, class size support was designed to bring equity to all school districts across the state. When the provision was passed, it was seen as an equalizer and designed to provide equitable funding to all districts. It was also a way for districts to hire enough teachers to keep class sizes at an appropriate level. FLVS is considered a district and has successfully served hundreds of thousands of students over the past decade. The program receives funding from the state using a weighted FTE (full time equivalent) model — just like all districts do. However, there are a couple of distinct differences in FLVS funding formula: 1) it is performance-based: meaning the program is funded only for students who successfully complete the course; and, 2) removes funding for programs not offered at the online program, including Supplemental Academic Instruction, ESE Guarantee, Safe Schools, Transportation, and School Recognition programs.

Today’s funding formula was built using sound, school-finance principles and to bring equity among the school districts. FLVS should not be singled out in today’s budget crisis. The state and subject certified teachers at FLVS work tirelessly to deliver individualized instruction to students and while their classrooms may not have four walls, their students are real and the classrooms exist.

Class-size support is a key element used to determine FLVS’ funding allocation. If the state legislature takes this support away, I’m afraid students will lose.

I implore you to reconsider such drastic actions and consider alternative ways that our state can continue to lead the country in delivering high-quality, online instruction.

Regards,



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Sample letter to Senate:

I’m writing out of concern about the recent budget passed by the Senate that would cut a substantial portion of Florida Virtual School’s financial support. From what I understand the Senate, and possibly the House, are considering deep cuts for FLVS, including taking away the support the program receives for elective courses, courses for acceleration and credit recovery, and for class-size reduction.

Florida Virtual School was started to serve students in rural districts, high minority schools, and low-performing schools. Many of these students would not have access to AP, advanced, honors, and elective courses without FLVS. FLVS has been funded for students who need to take courses after the regular school day and during the summer. Without FLVS many students will not be able to accelerate or make up credits for courses during the summer.

A case for FLVS elective courses from one of the FLVS AP Computer Science instructors:

• 90.1% of FLVS APCS students made a qualifying score (3, 4, or 5) on the 2008 exam compared to the Florida average of only 40.4% (or 36.3% if you remove FLVS students).
• FLVS APCS students averaged 4.20 on the 2008 exam compared to the Florida average of 2.38 (or 2.23 if you remove FLVS students).
• The median score on the 2008 APCS exam for FLVS students was a 5, but only a 1 for Florida as a whole.
• FLVS provided instruction for approximately 8% of the Florida students taking the APCS exam in the state in 2008. We are growing and project to exceed 10% in 2009.

When 60% of the state’s AP Computer Science students fail to make a qualifying score on the APCS exam, it is difficult to understand why the legislature would eliminate the FLVS elective that year after year has a pass rate in excess of 90% with average scores that far exceed the state and national averages. Given our results using a less expensive delivery model, isn’t a 90% return on investment vs. a 36% return what Florida’s taxpayers should expect to be maintained rather than discarded for a significantly lower performance?

The choices FLVS has been able to give to Florida students and parents in courses and the choice of when they take courses, has provided an economical way to ensure that all students have access to quality education with highly qualified instructors.
I implore you to reconsider such drastic actions and consider alternative ways that our state can continue to lead the country in delivering high-quality, online instruction.

Regards,

Friday, April 3, 2009

Parental Rights Amendment returns as HJ Resolution 42

Right on the heels of news that Sen. Arlen Specter, of PA, is introducing his flat tax bill for a second time (Specter Swings to the Right to Save Senate Seat), while also being lobbied to get behind a parental rights amendment to the Constitution, comes a Home School Legal Defense (HSLDA) note "introducing HJ Resolution 42: the aforementioned Parental Rights Amendment, and urging homechoolers to support it.

Of course supporting or not supporting this amendment is a personal decision, but it’s advised that those who *don't* support it speak out to their congressfolk as well.

Learning is for Everyone is of the view that the amendment is superfluous, since parental rights are already protected by the Constitution, and potentially rights limiting because it opens the door to more narrowly defining "parents" and "families".Additionally, the threat of international law at this level superseding federal law is an empty, and fear mongering one.

LIFE believes, like many other individuals and groups, that the best way to protect our freedoms is to use them, by speaking out on our own behalf and that of our children, for ourselves, and for others whenever we can, and we don't want anyone else deciding who "parents" are and what a family should look like.

You can learn more about the Parental Rights Amendment and related issues at http://www.learningis4everyone.org/content/view/24/42/1/2/

Follow actions and commentary at Open Congress: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-hj42/show

See also: NHELDs Warning to Parents :http://www.nheld.com/BTN67.htm