Best and Brightest- Why a Former Teacher and Current School Board Member Supports B&B

Contact: Shawn R. Frost, MBA frost@shawnfrost.com (772) 584-1454 "I fully support the idea of the Best and Brightest program because student success should be the number one consideration in education policy making and the research indicates that teacher quality is the fastest way to increase student success."   The main reason I support the Best and Brightest program is because I am relentlessly dedicated to student success and study after study has determined that a highly qualified teacher is the key factor in the success equation. Teachers matter. The book “The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They Got That Way” by Amanda Ripley makes it very clear that teacher quality is driving success in the “educational superpowers” such as Finland, South Korea, and Poland (yes, Poland is out-performing the U.S.). Teachers and frustrated parents often post the picture of the teacher from Finland meme to social media comparing the US to Finland and saying that we are doing everything backwards.  They say this is why we don’t do as well on the internationally recognized PISA test of academic achievement (a mandatory test). Continue reading

Cut Scores- Stop Bluffing Kids- Good for Vice Chair Padget

The Florida State Board of Education is meeting January 8th to set proficiency "cut" scores for students and schools. State Commissioner of Education Stewart has modeled school grades where a school getting only 62% of available points will receive a grade of "A". That is a RIDICULOUS curve. As a former teacher I can tell you that if I did that with a Biology final exam and it required that large of a curve, I'd be unlikely to have my contract renewed.  I had an op-ed published in TCPALM publications regarding this matter: Read it here.  America is setting itself up for failure by enabling poor performance. We need to stop "bluffing" our kids. By setting a low bar we are telling students you're proficient in reading (FOR A KID FROM FLORIDA). We do the same thing when we "adjust for demographics" we say to students: you're proficient (FOR AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN/ HISPANIC KID). This is just plain wrong. There shouldn't be parenthetical conditions for proficiency. Either you are proficient or we have work to do! This is the quiet racism of low expectations.  Facing the cold hard facts is the first step in solving the problem.  Read about the cut score issue here:  http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/florida/2015/12/8586646/board-education-vice-chair-challenges-scott-administrations-school-g  How do we solve the problem long-term? 1. Set the proficiency (a "C") cut score to NAEP 50%, then next year increase to 55%, then 60% and 65%. This incremental increase will result in a soft landing but increase expectations over time.  2. Use a nationally recognized test by having the State establish concordance scores for well validated tests such as Iowa Basic or SAT 10 (SAT & ACT in secondary grades) and allow individual districts to decide which of the approved tests they wish to administer.    About Shawn Frost Shawn Frost is an Indian River School Board member and father of two children in public schools of choice in Vero Beach, Fla. He blogs on education issues at FROSTplan.com and was founding vice president of Florida Coalition of School Board Members. https://www.redefinedonline.org/2015/12/make-2016-the-year-of-and/

ESSA: End of Common Core as a Federal issue- Stop blaming Obama

F.R.O.S.T. plan to restore our education to greatness- this falls under "R" resisting federal over-reach and over-testing. It's best to begin by acknowledging that there are plenty of reasonable people who view Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as a failure and more of the same. I get it. Trust me, I get it.  As someone who has followed the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for the last several months in conference and committee, there were ways it could be better that ultimately didn't end up in the final act (now law). Firstly, it is after all a federal bill on education. Many principled conservatives would vote against it on this premise alone. It is by its very nature "Fed Ed" and many of us have fought against this. I still doubt the need for a Federal Dept of Education, so if your legislator voted against it for this reason, he or she makes perfect sense. Secondly, ESSA adds or expands programs that may or may not make local schools stronger such as "head start" programs. Remember, as Sen Rubio said at the Education Summit in Nov 2014 "Federal funds come not with strings but with chains". The DOE has used Race to the Top funds to coerce states to adopt the Common Core, and we are still uncertain what these funds will be tied to. The Federal funds may only be sufficient to fund the mandated programs which will leave local taxpayers on the hook for additional costs or force School Districts to cut other programs to fund the Federally mandated ones. Thirdly, earlier versions of ESSA had things that would have made our schools stronger but ultimately were cut in the Congressional horse-trading process. The best example is "Title I portability" which would have allowed the extra federal funds for students in low socio-economic schools to "follow the child" to a school of choice. Opportunity through choice is what the "O" in F.R.O.S.T. plan stands for and it would have been a big win for parents and students to secure Title I portability. Not including this might be another reason a principled conservative would vote against ESSA.  Having said all of this, I am going out on a limb and declaring that I'm glad the ESSA passed.  Why? Because I have been following this issue closely for several months and know it well and as this blog post title suggests: it is the end of Common Core as a FEDERAL issue. It's not the end of Common Core, but it is a major victory in the war on common core. My friends on the right can no longer blame Obama if their state or district has Common Core. I will now explain... Continue reading

Serving ALL STUDENTS with excellence: Emphasis Matters

A version of this was published by Treasure Coast Newspapers (TCPALM) Oct. 29, 2015 http://www.tcpalm.com/opinion/guest-columns/shawn-frost-shortchanging-charter-schools-doesnt-jibe-with-indian-river-school-districts-mission-233-338473562.html  F.R.O.S.T. plan to restore our education system to greatness this falls under "O" Opportunity through choice.  The mission statement of the School District of Indian River County is “To Serve All Students with Excellence.”  And it is time to end the discriminatory capital funding practices and do just that.  In communications class, there’s an exercise where students place added emphasis on each word in a sentence and explore how the change in emphasis changes the meaning.  That sentence is usually something like “I didn’t say you are a dumb jerk”. So, with emphasis on the “I” the meaning is opened to the possibility that somebody said it but it wasn’t the speaker. Emphasizing the “didn’t” is an outright denial. Placing emphasis on “say” opens it up to the possibility of all other forms of communication being used to declare someone a dumb jerk, and on and on. The point being emphasis matters. It is no different in organizational success and, in particular, in student success. Now, let’s revisit SDIRC’s mission statement. The word “to” is just there for style, so let’s jump right to “SERVE”. As elected or appointed (hired) leaders, our role is to SERVE the needs of those who elect us and pay our salaries. This means subjugating our own prejudices and beliefs for the benefit of those in our care. Seeing students as equal is just that. Next we should place the emphasis on “ALL” in “To Serve ALL…” This is where we can do better. We say “ALL” but then Board Members refer to students in district run neighborhood schools as “our students” and claim that the district only has enough money for “our students”, and cannot share capital funds with public charter students.  They are ALL our students.     Continue reading

Data Supports School Choice

This is the article I referenced on Ed Dean Radio Show 5-29-2015- Shawn Frost     Want better student outcomes? Data says offer school choice.   May 28, 2015 • The EdFly Blog Where should a child go to school? The answer should be this simple: Wherever he or she has the best opportunity for success. Outcomes are what matter, not allegiances to any particular model or provider. This has been the inherent flaw in traditional public school education. Children are assigned to schools based on their zip codes in a take-it, or leave-it system. Those parents with the financial resources can leave it. Those without such resources must take it. School choice programs help level the playing field, allowing more options for low-income parents to pick the best educational environment for their children. One such program provides parents with scholarship funds to send their children to private schools. Adults vested in traditional public schools (teachers unions, education bureaucracies, etc.) view these scholarship programs as a threat. But their concern is less about the outcomes for students than it is losing the dollars that come with students when they walk in the door. - See more at: http://excelined.org/2015/05/28/want-better-student-outcomes-data-says-offer-school-choice/#sthash.CHrJ8liy.dpuf

FSBA membership a Bad Return on Investment

FSBA membership dues a poor investment. I was elected to the School Board on the platform of “Smarter School Spending”. The voters resoundingly embraced this mission when they selected me over my opponent, who was an incumbent and the sitting President of the Florida School Boards Association (FSBA). True to my promise of Smarter School Spending, I’ve instituted personal policies such as not billing for travel, taking online instead of on-location professional development, and sending my district-issued laptop back to be used in the classrooms. These modest measures, putting students first, have saved a little over $4,040 to date. Now I’m proposing that we withdraw our membership from the FSBA for at least one year to retain another $20,000 to directly benefit our students. Why? Nonrenewal in the FSBA is in the best interest of our students and taxpayers. Period. The FSBA simply does not deliver $15,391 (not including professional development and travel costs) of value to the students and taxpayers of Indian River County. What are we getting for (y)our money?  Continue reading

Visit to Tally

It was an incredibly productive Trip to Tallahassee (not a penny of taxpayer money was spent). We were able to meet with Chairs of the appropriations committees of both pre-k - 12 committees. Past President of the Senate and current Chair of the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee; Sen. Don Gaetz   Rep. Erik Fresen, Chair of the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee (Chair), Education Committee, K-12 Subcommittee We met with several other leaders in Florida Education..   Continue reading

MoneyWatch- Saving the District $$$

Part of the FROST plan is Fiscal responsibility  and  Smarter School Spending and took issue with the manner in which my predecessor used taxpayer resources. Yes, I agree with my predecessor that to be effective we must have influence on the Lawmakers. I don't think we need to spend a bunch of money to make that happen. Instead, I think that the money should stay in the district and benefit the teachers and students. General practices in which I engage to save the taxpayers money: I don't submit mileage - this is covered by the salary and even processing the paperwork costs the district money I don't accept a meal allowance- I was planning on eating that day anyway and can pay for my own meals I avail myself of high-quality internet based professional development rather than expensive site-based training   So far: February 20, 2015 No district cell phone $60/mo (*48 months) $2,880 I use my personal cell and welcome calls from constituents Returned the district issued laptop and asked them to put it in the hands of a teacher, classroom, or student as part of our 1:1 initiative. It was a brand new and very nice laptop with an estimated value of at least $850. All email is contained on the servers and can be produced by public records request. I access my email via the web-mail function. I didn't need it and thought it belonged in the classroom. Mileage- I haven't submitted a request for mileage reimbursement. On one trip, Ms. Stang being the astute assistant she is, prepared the form and according to the formula I was due $155 for travel to Tampa. That's nuts. I spent $24 in gas and the salary more than covers the occasional travel.  When I travel to Tallahassee to represent the FCSBM, that travel doesn't come out of local district money. Either I pay it or it could come from FCSBM member dues. At the time of writing, I've always just paid it. Future savings: In December I attended a somewhat mandatory training in Tampa and unfortunately spent $155 for the conference fee and another $169 for a night in the "host" hotel.  In the future, all of my professional development will be done online. The amount saved per year will be at least $359, but I'm not including this in my total.  February 25, 2015: Today, I am doing my annual 4 hours of ethics training, being provided by the Florida Commission on Ethics (the ultimate authority on the subject) and it is 100% free. Plus I can break it up into smaller blocks and take a break whenever I need to. The FSBA charges $155 for their online training. Later in March I will take a course on education reform and it will cost the district absolutely nothing.    Total savings so far: $4,040 Ideas for future savings (will require board action): Replace lobbyist expense ($6,700) with a subscription to lobbytools (for about 1/10th the cost) Exit the FSBA which will save the district at least $15,300 / year Total savings with these two tweaks- $22,000! (or 44 computers)

The FROST PLAN explained

  The F.R.O.S.T. strategy  for restoring education: F. – Fiscal Responsibility R. – Resisting  Federal Intrusion into the local classroom / Overuse of high stakes testing O.- Opportunity Through Educational Choice S.- Smarter School Spending T.- Technology and Teachers       F.      Fiscal Responsibility- There are a few things that seem to be missing from past decisions. 1. Money isn't free (must calculate and consider the cost of capital) 2. Just because we have money doesn't mean we have to spend it 3. Staff wants and needs are endless, but we have to set policy for how we want to see our taxes spent. We don't have to go with "Staff recommendation". We can ask for an amended recommendation.    R. Resisting Fed. Ed. / Overuse of High-Stakes Testing We must keep our schools under LOCAL control. The Federal Department of Education has crept in and we are in danger of losing our schools to un-elected Washington bureaucrats.   The proverbial tail is wagging the proverbial dog. We need to focus on only those tests mandated by STATE requirements, and say no to any funding that is tied to the outcome of expensive tests, because the cost of administration is usually higher than the rewards and the loss of local control isn't worth it. It is a false gift. We need to hire and retain excellent teachers and let them teach. Enough with the constant testing.    O.- Opportunity through choice- The rights of parents to choose the educational setting and program that best suits the individual needs of that child should be preserved.    S. Smarter School Spending. Money, your money collected via taxes, must be spent wisely in the best practices from the business community (learned in my MBA) and focused on the core mission of education. In a sustainable spending program, only those activities which ADD VALUE to the process are funded. It puts the focus where it should be, on delivering a world class education that prepares America's leaders of tomorrow for the competitive global economy. It also places value on spending on things that reduce costs and wasteful spending in the long haul.     T. Technology and Teachers- How do we implement this? The two most powerful T's of Educational Success- Technology & Teachers. This is how the literature and evidence-based research says we get the most "bang-for-our-buck". We should be investing heavily in these two things, not $7.3 million dollar administrative palaces while our kids are being educated in portables and concretables.  Promise: I will make certain that the funds allocated for classroom computers and teachers go to those causes and not to fund a bureaucratic system. I will always focus on placing resources where the do the most good and that's where the "rubber meets the road", in the classroom.   

Why start the FCSBM?

A few people have asked me personally why I was among the School Board Members around the State who felt a need to start the Florida Coalition of School Board Members when there was already a long-established organization providing services to School Board Members around the state.  Some jumped to conclusions and assumed that there was some vast conspiracy at work and we are put up by the folks fighting the lawsuit by the FSBA. A reporter in our first press conference directly asked the question if we received seed money from the organization. Of course we didn't. We are self-funded, the founding members donated our time and resources to bring this important organization into being for a few simple reasons. What follows are my (Shawn Frost's) reasons alone and may or may not reflect those of the founding members of the coalition.  1. The training currently available for us was expensive, time consuming, and a variable expense - we can do better 2. The lawsuit hurts children and is counter to my values.  3. The role of School Board Member is waning because of the lack of values congruence of the current organization and the leadership in Tallahassee.  I will take it point by point: Continue reading