Educators highlight contributions
Ocala Star-Banner (FL)February 18, 1991
Jim Warford, a television production teacher at Vanguard High School, said the books used in schools aren't adequate enough for teaching about black history."I'm not really happy with a lot of the books," Warford said. "They're almost devoid of character and color."But, he added, a lot of teachers do try to include black history in their classrooms.
Teachers save lives, says Warford. He should know ...
Ocala Star-Banner (FL)March 1, 1997
OCALA -- Moments before being named Marion County Teacher of the Year, Jim Warford refolded his carefully-scripted nominee's speech, tucked it neatly away in his pocket and explained, from the heart, just why he is a teacher.
He teaches, Warford said, because teachers save lives.To illustrate the point, Warford told a sadly all-too-common story about a bright enough young man from an extremely dysfunctional family, abandoned as a baby by his father and abused by his stepfather.Warford said the young man would have slipped through the cracks and been lost if not for the help of three teachers. "These teachers not only changed his life, but quite possibly they saved it," Warford said."I'm pleased to say, I'm not the teacher in this story. I was the student. Mary Kay Jones was one of those teachers, and she saved my life."
Ocala Star-Banner (FL)November 12, 2000
OCALA -- Precinct-by-precinct analysis of the Marion County ballots shows voters made their choices largely along party lines, with a large turnout of minorities heavily favoring Democratic candidates while the crucial State Road 200 vote generally swung toward Republicans. ….
… Harrell Harrison, a Democrat, lost to Republican Jim Warford in the race for Superintendent of Schools by nearly a 10-point margin, 54.6 to 45.4 percent margin. However, the ballot results showed Harrison carried 34 of 96 precincts.
Ocala Star-Banner (FL)January 27, 2001
Marion County Superintendent of Schools Jim Warford was one of four educators in Florida chosen to participate in President George W. Bush's nationwide education forum.
Warford spoke with Gov. Jeb Bush's office Thursday to coordinate an hourlong teleconference Friday morning. Two senior White House advisers spoke with educators nationwide about Bush's education initiatives and what will be proposed to Congress.
Ocala Star-Banner (FL)June 28, 2001
OCALA -- In the wake of Marion County Superintendent Jim Warford's announcement of a proposed $16 million worth of cuts from the school system budget, Warford said bus drivers and custodians do not need to wonder about job security.
Despite the announcement that bus routes will be consolidated and the number of new buses purchased cut in half, Warford said he is not eliminating anybody's job.Under Warford's proposal, middle school and high school students will share buses, saving the district an estimated $1.85 million.
'A' school is showcase A U.S. congressional panel visits the school that earned high FCAT marks, but hears words of warning.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)February 17, 2001
…Debra Robinson, a West Palm Beach School Board member, said some schools invest all their time helping children just below the minimum acceptable scores to boost their school's grade and ignore the children who struggle the most. She also said she worried that an A for a Florida school would not be the same as an A in another state.And pressure to get the highest grades prompts some teachers to narrow their lessons, teaching children the test and not spending time on areas that do not appear on the FCAT, said Broward County Superintendent Frank Till Jr.Others lauded the FCAT for turning around troubled schools.James Warford, Marion County's superintendent, said it forced his district to pay attention to struggling schools when three schools received F's. The district used state funds that go toward failing schools to pay for more teacher training, student remediation and smaller class sizes…
Educations funding test: When it comes to our schools, how much money is enough?
Ocala Star-Banner (FL)July 27, 2001
Author: JIM WARFORD
When it comes to our schools, how much money is enough? As work on our budget for the next school year continues, this difficult question is never very far from my mind. I know that the "right" answer depends entirely upon whom you ask. I also know that I owe it to this community to present my views as clearly as I can.
As this paper reported, our administration recently completed work on preparing our proposed budget for presentation to the School Board. Included are $16 million in cuts to our operating expenses. Eliminating "wish list" items produced a few of these reductions, but most involved hard decisions and real people. Credit must be given to Jim Yancey, Wally Wagoner, and department heads for taking a long hard look at every budget line item.The budget was designed to match our priorities to the available revenues. No one should be surprised by our budget priorities. They are exactly the same as the goals we have outlined. These cuts will lower class size in the early grades and direct more dollars to the classroom. Our budget will reduce waste, increase performance-based funding, and provide more training and support for teachers.Under the Bush/Brogan A+ Plan more dollars are tied to performance, expectations are spelled out, and standards of accountability are set. I continue to believe that this is the right approach. Like the A+ Plan, our local budget is based upon the common sense notion that parents and taxpayers deserve to know exactly what kind of results they are getting in our schools.While we certainly did not receive all the money some folks wanted this year, we did get a 3.59 percent increase, or about $8 million in new dollars. However, more of these dollars are being sent directly to schools and teachers. For example, there is an $850 bonus for every teacher who received a satisfactory performance appraisal. I want to thank state Rep. Dennis Baxley, who worked closely with our school district to make sure Marion County's voice was heard on many important items. While none of us got everything we wanted from this legislative session, the record is clear.In the past three years funding for K-12 education has increased by 21 percent, or $2.4 billion. That is the largest back-to-back funding increase for our schools in the history of Florida. Those new dollars have provided Marion County teachers with a 19 percent pay increase since 1998-99 and an additional 13 percent for all other school system employees.Is that enough money for our schools and our teachers? For some the answer is clearly no. At the same time, others believe we are spending far too much for the results we are getting. But how people answer my question depends entirely upon how they first answer this one: Are we getting our money's worth? In other words, is the school system spending our money wisely and are our students getting the education they need? For some time now, among a growing number of people, there has been a gut-level feeling that the answer to these questions is no.Those of us in education must wake up to the fact that, until a majority of the folks in this community answer yes to these questions, there will never be enough money or support for education. And, most importantly, it is up to those of us who believe in public education to make the changes that will make the difference.To do this, we need to understand what an excellent tool the A+ Plan will turn out to be. The greater accountability it insures will produce greater public confidence. I do not believe the public expects overnight miracles from our schools, but they do expect a clear plan and straight answers about the results of that plan.Pay no attention to the cynics among us. To those negative nay-sayers who think nothing will ever change. They are wrong. Change is what we Americans do best. The fear that was fanned by those who would cling to the past is already giving way to a growing confidence among teachers and principals as they see for themselves the dramatic gains our students are making.Three years ago we had three F and eight D schools, and only one A school. This year we had no F schools, eight A and nine B schools. How many improved school grades and higher test scores will it take before we all understand the value of this vision?Let me close with my original question. How much money is enough for our schools? Ultimately, it will be up to this community to answer that question. But I believe this community will support its schools when we prove to them that we are worth their investment. I believe that when we do, money will not be a problem, because most people will do the right thing most of the time. I believe that all children can learn and that our teachers can teach them. That is why we must measure and report student performance.You measure what you treasure -- and what gets measured gets done.Jim Warford is superintendent of schools for Marion County.
Ocala Star-Banner (FL)August 10, 2001
OCALA -- Superintendent of Schools Jim Warford's busing plan met with mixed success as the new school year opened Thursday.
In June Warford decided to consolidate routes, deciding high school students would share buses with middle schoolers, an effort that was to save Marion County Public Schools $1.85 million.Thursday, some overcrowded buses, especially those bound for West Port High and Middle schools, proved to be the major flaw.
Ocala Star-Banner (FL)November 30, 2001
OCALA -- Music, art, drama, home economics or other high school electives could be dropped from Marion County public school curricullums next year under one of the district's budget-cutting plans, which would save nearly $7 million.
The plan under consideration by Superintendent of Schools Jim Warford would reduce the number of credits high school students need each year from seven to six.It would eliminate the need for 157 teaching positions, which Warford hopes to accomplish through attrition.
…the Marion County school system expects to absorb $10 million to $13 million in legislatively mandated budget cuts over the next year and a half. The big-ticket item is the elimination of 157 teaching jobs by shortening the school day for middle and high school students from seven periods to six. That, folks, is no longer cutting into the meat of the school system; we're now into the bone. Then the administration proposes doing away with elementary school substitutes, replacing them with school secretaries. Summer school will be pared back, after-school programs that provide supervision to hundreds of children are on the hit list, buses for students in our most academically elite magnet programs will be parked, and teacher aides in kindergarten will be halved.The there's driver's education, school nurses, psychological services for students, and social work assistants -- all destined for serious paring.These are not insignificant cuts and are not likely to be the last ones. There is still talk that music, art and athletics will all take hits before all is said and done as well.Superintendent Jim Warford was elected on the promise of elevating our public schools out of mediocrity. His job -- and this community's -- just got harder with the Legislature's unconscionable and unfair decision to rip public education funding while continuing to hold local school districts' feet to the fire on achievement.
Marion County Superintendent Named K-12 Chancellor
The Tampa TribuneApril 24, 2003
TAMPA - James Warford, a former entertainer who became school superintendent in Marion County, was tapped Wednesday as the state's new $140,000-a-year chancellor over grades kindergarten through 12.
Warford, 53, is credited by Gov. Jeb Bush's administration with leading the school district's improvement on the annual state report card. Marion went from three failing schools, eight D schools and one A school in 1999 to nine A, 13 B and no failures in 2002.Warford has required Marion's K-10 teachers to give weekly quizzes to see which students need remediation, a spokesman said.In June, he will start overseeing the state Education Department's Division of Public Schools.Warford was a high school speech, drama and television production teacher for 14 years. He previously was a performer and songwriter in Nashville, Tenn., and spent nine years as entertainment director and consultant for Florida's Silver Springs attraction.
SCHOOL BOARD AGENDA SPILLS OVER ITS ALLOTTED SCHEDULE
Tallahassee Democrat (FL)April 27, 2003
Education leader names new K-12 ChancellorEducation Commissioner Jim Horne recently named Marion County School Superintendent James Warford as Florida's new K-12 Chancellor. As chancellor, he will oversee the Division of Public Schools, which includes such areas as school improvement services, curriculum and instruction, school safety, federal Title I programs and teacher certification.
He earned a bachelor's degree in communication from Western Kentucky University and a master's degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. He currently serves on the board of directors of various organizations, including the United Way of Marion County, the Public Education Foundation of Marion County and the Marion County Economic Development Council.
TOP STATE SCHOOLS MAY GET A SHOCKSOME A, B GRADES LIKELY NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO MEET FEDERAL STANDARDS
THE ORLANDO SENTINELJuly 13, 2003
Hundreds of Florida schools could be tagged as failing to meet federal standards this month, even if they earned grades of A and B on the state's annual report card.Under Gov. Jeb Bush's A-Plus Plan, more than half of the state's schools received high grades because they posted top test scores or boosted student performance in reading, writing and math. But that may not be good enough under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which grades schools much differently.
Schools that miss just one of up to 45 benchmarks could be placed on the substandard list, due out July 31. High-poverty schools that end up on the list two years in a row must let students transfer to better-performing public schools."Large numbers of schools with A's and B's are going to fail to make adequate yearly progress," Florida's K-12 Chancellor James Warford recently warned school administrators in Orlando.
Preschool Plan May Cost $425 Million
The Tampa TribuneSeptember 11, 2003
CLASS-SIZE MANDATE IS SQUEEZING BUDGETTALLAHASSEE - The headaches lawmakers endured trying to balance the state budget this year could erupt into migraines in 2004 as they brace for the launch of another education-related voter mandate, universal preschool.
The governor's office told legislators, educators and business leaders Wednesday that it is estimating the first-year annual cost of "universal prekindergarten" at $425 million. During the next legislative session, lawmakers will begin preparing for the added expense of ensuring the state can accommodate up to 70 percent of the 4-year-olds whose parents choose to take advantage of the voluntary program."This is going to be a big challenge," said James Warford, chancellor for the state's K-12 programs. "There are no easy answers in light of class size - these two constitutional mandates are going to meet head on."School officials are questioning whether the Legislature is adequately funding public schools.Just months after lawmakers settled on their $53.5 billion "live-within-our-means" state budget, they and educators from across the state are crunching numbers in anticipation of universal prekindergarten. The voter-approved constitutional amendment requires pre-K programs be running by the 2005 school year.Warford along with Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings and more than a dozen educators, school preschool advocates and business leaders, also known as the Universal Prekindergarten Education Advisory Council, spent Wednesday examining how the state will deliver. Making the task difficult is the rising cost of complying with the other voter mandate to reduce the number of students in each elementary, middle and high school class.
STATE'S ELITE TEACHERS COULD MAKE $92,000A PILOT PROGRAM WOULD REWARD TOP EDUCATORS FOR GETTING RESULTS IN THEIR CLASSROOMS.
THE ORLANDO SENTINELJanuary 10, 2004
After decades of being stingy with its teachers, Florida is about to offer an elite group a chance for salaries of up to $92,000 a year.The almost unheard-of pay is part of a four-county pilot program aimed at rewarding top-performing educators through a career ladder -- a radical change to a system that has traditionally paid teachers for years of experience.
"This is a fundamental restructuring in how we pay teachers," said James Warford, chancellor of Florida's kindergarten-to-12th-grade system.Called BEST -- Best Educated Students and Teachers -- the program gives teachers raises or bonuses as high as $14,000 annually if they mentor other teachers and instruct low-performing students.
FCAT FAILURE MAY NO LONGER BE TROUBLE
The Miami HeraldMarch 23, 2004
With the backing of the Department of Education, a House subcommittee approved a measure Monday that would give high school students an opportunity to graduate even if they can't pass the state's 10th grade FCAT exam…
About 12,000 seniors failed the FCAT in 2003.If a student failed to get a score of 284 on the language portion of the FCAT, a 14 on the ACT or 370 on the SAT would suffice. If the required 295 math score on the FCAT is not achieved, a 14 on the ACT or a 350 on the SAT would be satisfactory for graduation, Education Department officials said.``It provides students multiple graduation options, so we think it's fair and preserves our FCAT,'' K-12 Chancellor James Warford said.
Horne visit will focus on teacher mentoring
FLORIDA TODAY (Melbourne, FL)April 23, 2004
INDIALANTIC -- A weekly "cluster" meeting of Hoover Middle School teachers this afternoon will have a few special guests -- the people who funded the pilot program that initiated such regular meetings this year.State Education Commissioner Jim Horne and K-12 Chancellor James Warford are expected to visit Hoover to observe the Florida Teacher Mentor Pilot Program -- one of seven in the state -- which is funded by a $150,000 state grant.
Crowding, choice at odds in schools
St. Petersburg Times (FL)June 4, 2004
School crowding and school choice are about to collide in Hernando County.
More than 6,300 children might be eligible to transfer out of their existing school in August, if their campus failed to meet federal progress guidelines for a second year in a row.But their choices are some of the district's most overcrowded schools, some of which did not make adequate yearly progress themselves. Complicating matters, the district has asked parents to decide whether they want a transfer, and to which school, by June 11 - at least three days before the state is expected to announce 2003-04 progress results…
Two choices are the "bare minimum" a district can offer to provide meaningful options, as required by the law, state schools Chancellor James Warford said….
Warford, the state chancellor, said the state understands districts' plight. It's clear, he said, that not every student can attend a single school: Choice has to be tempered with reality.
Governor Seeks To Relax No Child Left Behind Rules - STATE, FEDERAL STANDARDS AT ODDS, OFFICIALS SAY
Tampa Tribune, The (FL)March 16, 2005
TALLAHASSEE — Florida's public schools could improve their future grades on a national report card if federal officials accept Gov. Jeb Bush's proposal to loosen requirements for the state.
Though more than two-thirds of the state's public schools made A or B grades on the state measure last year, more than three-fourths failed to hit the federal standard for the second year in a row…
First, the proposal would lower the requirement that subgroups show a 10 percent improvement in their FCAT scores.Jim Warford, chancellor for K-12 education, said the subgroups would have to show progressive improvement in their scores over the years, but the requirement would not be as steep as it now is.The proposal also would change the number of students considered in the national rankings.Rather than each subgroup at each school comprising 30 students, subgroups would consist of 15 percent of the total student population at each school.Warford said this would benefit larger schools by including more of their students in the national measurement.Finally, the proposal would allow schools that show overall learning gains on the FCAT to have "safe harbor" and not be classified as failing.Students are allowed to transfer out of schools that repeatedly fail under the federal measure.State education officials said their proposal will put Florida on a level playing field and more accurately reflect its students' progress.
The arts still have meaningEducators continue to struggle for balance
Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)April 13, 2005
State mandates for extra reading instruction for students who fail FCAT are also part of the challenge. Some students are already pulled out of elective classes to take extra reading, a trend Deputy Superintendent Chris Colwell hopes can be limited in the future."I hope we don't get to the point where we have to choose between having an experience in art or taking a second reading course," he said.Colwell and James Warford, Florida's chancellor of K-12 education, see the solution in integrating arts and academics."Any principal who thinks that taking music, art, vocational programs, elective programs and agriculture programs out of the curriculum (works) doesn't get it," Warford, a former theater teacher, said in a telephone interview from Tampa. "The solution is integrating rigorous reading into those courses. There's lots of research out there that supports teaching of core academic subjects through the arts."Florida's Dwindling Arts Education Classes By The Numbers1985: 85 percent elementary pupils taking music2003: 65 percent elementary pupils taking music1985: 65 percent elementary pupils taking art2003: 55 percent elementary pupils taking art
Failing schools could be privately run
Tallahassee Democrat (FL)April 20, 2005
The state Board of Education is looking at private companies that might take on the job of running Florida's worst public schools - but officials said Tuesday they haven't made any decisions about whether to install "alternative management."
The panel will wait to see the latest school grades, which will be released in June, before deciding what to do to improve schools that earn their third or fourth failing grade."There are continuing to be questions about how we will proceed," Public Schools Chancellor Jim Warford said Tuesday as he gave the board a list of four companies expressing interest.But Education Commissioner John Winn said he thought the state was closer to taking that step than before; the option has been in state law several years.
Give charters respect, school districts warned
St. Petersburg Times (FL)May 18, 2005
The state Board of Education on Tuesday raised the possibility of withholding money - potentially millions of dollars - from school districts it believes are treating charter schools unfairly.
The discussion followed a series of cases in which the board sided with charters against school districts that either wanted to shut them down or keep them from opening. In a handful of decisions, the state determined the districts had violated the charters' right to due process and skirted state law.The board "needs to send a message," said vice chairman T. Willard Fair, who worked with Gov. Jeb Bush to set up the state's first charter school.None of the districts singled out Tuesday are in west-central Florida.But the discussion highlighted the prickly relationship between districts and charter schools - which get public money but are largely free of district oversight - and a growing rift between districts and the state.Charters are a mixed bag in terms of student achievement and financial stability, but the state sees them as a legitimate option and a key to better schools. With more than 300 charters enrolling 80,000 students, Florida is a national leader in the charter movement."These are all the growing pains of a new option," said K-12 chancellor Jim Warford.Education Commissioner John Winn said he would contact a handful of districts in coming weeks to ask how they will better comply with charter school laws in the future. If the response isn't satisfactory, he said, the board would begin laying out a procedure that could lead to what he called "the ultimate sanction" - withholding education dollars…
Florida Education Officials Warn Of Class-Size Squeeze - NEW STAFF-STUDENT RATIOS MEAN MORE TEACHERS, SPACE
Tampa Tribune, The (FL)May 25, 2005
TAMPA — Florida students could face a future of smaller classes at the cost of qualified teachers, state leaders said Tuesday…
…Jim Warford, chancellor for K-12 education, said the teacher shortage will affect how the state recruits."This is probably the last year the majority of our new teachers will come from a traditional path," Warford said.He said the state will have to start thinking of creative ways to recruit highly qualified teachers from other fields.Warford said that by the 2006-07 school year, as many as 122,000 teachers not trained in science will be placed in science classes. In math classes, as many as 153,000 out-of-field teachers could be instructing students."This is the single greatest threat to the achievement gains we've made," Warford said.He also told local leaders the state will continue to look at middle and high school reform. A task force will begin looking at how to change the curriculum and standards so they are more closely tied to student promotion.
GOV. BUSH TOUTS USE OF CHRISTIAN-BASED PROGRAM IN SCHOOLS
Palm Beach Post, The (FL)July 6, 2005
Just before Father's Day, Gov. Jeb Bush announced that he wanted every public school in Florida to host a Christian-based program designed to increase fathers' participation in their children's lives.
The program, All Pro Dad, combines a biblical foundation with the draw of popular professional athletes to promote the belief that "the father is the head of the household" and that men should rely on God to help them be better parents and keep their marriages intact. It also encourages Bible reading…
… But critics say the program, which has a direct link on the Florida Department of Education Web site, clearly has Christian overtones and is part of a national effort by evangelicals who view public schools as recruiting fields…
Last month, however, Florida K-12 public schools Chancellor Jim Warford touted the program to the state's 67 school superintendents."I encourage you to go to http://www.allprodad.com/yourneigh borhood.asp to get a free introductory DVD about the program and how you can get fathers more involved in your schools," Warford wrote in a June 17 memo. The memo does not include information about the program's religious orientation.Department of Education officials defended the state's endorsement of the Christian-based program, but otherwise referred queries about All Pro Dad to Volunteer Florida, a Bush-appointed nonprofit agency charged with faith and community outreach."It's appropriate for the Department of Education to endorse programs that encourage parents to be involved in their children's lives. We would support any program that would encourage that," department spokeswoman Melanie Etters said. "The fact is that a lot of the people that participate in the All Pro Dads are NFL stars and they reach out to some populations that the Department of Education wouldn't attract."
STATE'S SCHOOLS CHIEF RESIGNS POST
Miami Herald, The (FL)July 14, 2005
The person in charge of Florida's public schools, K-12 Chancellor Jim Warford, resigned this week.Asked if his resignation had been requested, Warford, 56, said, ``No comment.''
Warford, who stepped down on Monday, departs at a time when there's continuing debate over the cost of implementing the 2002 class-size constitutional amendment, low teachers' salaries and Florida's poor high-school graduation rate.Education Commissioner John Winn, who reports to Gov. Jeb Bush and helped the governor craft his school-reform agenda, will make the new appointment. Warford became K-12 chancellor in 2003.``I certainly am hopeful we'll continue to have someone who has the same bridge-building capabilities,'' House Education Council Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said, referring to Warford's talent for relating to school officials at all levels.Warford was a former teacher, principal and superintendent from Marion County.Warford was involved in negotiations among Bush, legislative leaders and the Florida Education Association teachers' union to craft a compromise on rewriting the class-size amendment.Bush has pushed coupling a less strict class-size measure, measured as a district average, with a new base salary for Florida teachers of $35,000. The FEA inserted a maximum individual class-size standard slightly above the amendment's current standards. But the compromise failed when several South Florida GOP senators refused to abandon small class sizes and complained that promised teacher-pay raises were inadequate for their area.``I will continue to be part of that debate,'' Warford said. ``We must find a way to reward teachers and principals for what they're doing. It's unconscionable that the men and women whose efforts and sacrifices we're celebrating are not being financially recognized.''Warford helped push through middle-school reforms with a focus on reading in grades six through eight. The changes included middle-school reading coaches to assist all teachers in how to incorporate reading skills in their lessons and requiring individual improvement plans for students reading below grade level.``The governor appreciates Chancellor Warford's service. He has been an integral part in our state's efforts to improve student achievement,'' Bush spokesman Jacob Di Pietre said.
Character Clash Was Catalyst For Departure
Tampa Tribune, The (FL)July 15, 2005
WARFORD DECISION "MORE PERSONAL THAN POLICY'
TALLAHASSEE — A personality conflict between two of Florida's top K-12 education officials prompted chancellor Jim Warford's abrupt resignation, a key lawmaker who spoke with both men confirmed Thursday.The governor passed over Warford for the more powerful and prominent job of state education commissioner when it came open last year, awarding it to former state lawmaker John Winn.House Education Council Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said the reason for Warford's departure "is more personal than policy.""You know you have some very talented people [at the Department of Education] ... so there's always the potential for competition. I think they still have a lot of concern and respect for each other's well being," Baxley said of Warford and Winn.A spokeswoman for Winn, Melanie Etters, said "Commissioner Winn does not comment on personnel issues."Warford, 56, asked whether personality conflicts with Winn played a role in his departure, said: "I am not going to go down that road."Despite any personal discord inside the department, the two men both were loyal proponents of Gov. Jeb Bush's education reforms, and Warford's departure was not expected to signal a change in policy for the education of Florida's 2.5 million public school students.Warford was Marion County superintendent of schools immediately before he was appointed the state's K-12 chancellor in 2003 at a salary of $140,000.During his time in Tallahassee, Warford oversaw the voter-mandated reduction in public school class sizes, even though he said it unfairly diverted money away from teacher salaries.The former high school speech and drama teacher also was a vocal proponent of the governor's A-Plus education plan, which evaluates student and school achievement through the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. He often lauded its relationship with No Child Left Behind, a federal law that also rates school achievement based on standardized tests.Warford, who will be on leave until his effective resignation date of Nov. 29, said he may apply to become superintendent of schools in Duval County, but he is planning to take long walks during a Montana vacation before deciding. A Duval school district spokeswoman said the search is in its preliminary stages and couldn't comment on Warford.Warford said he was not likely to take the frequent path out of a top state government posts: a lucrative lobbying career."I've never been smart enough to make a lot of money," he said. "I've never taken a job for the money.'
WITH VOUCHERS COME NEW CHOICES - AND MARKETS
Miami Herald, The (FL)August 6, 2006
A generation ago, most parents had no say in where their children attended school. The answer, normally, was just up the road.Aside from those who could afford private school, there was rarely an alternative to the neighborhood campus assigned by the district. The students and their parents were a captive audience, and the mammoth school system bureaucracy had little incentive to cater to their desires.
When Gov. Jeb Bush aimed to reinvent public education after his election in 1998, one of his first priorities was to shatter that model, prompting some of the fiercest political and legal fights in Florida's modern history…
…Bush embraced the program, pushing for a longer day and tougher standards than were actually enacted, and parents were free to choose among a wide range of public and private schools.Other choice programs have been routinely attacked for lack of oversight, both educational and financial. The largest voucher program, which gives corporations tax deductions in exchange for paying for poor children to attend private schools, was savaged when an Ocala man with a long criminal history was convicted of stealing more than $268,000 through a phony scholarship organization.With the exception of the now-defunct Opportunity Scholarships, voucher students did not take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, making it impossible to compare their performance with their peers in public school. Even with the Opportunity Scholarships, state officials hardly ever studied voucher pupils' performance.``We didn't want to see the results of that study,'' said Jim Warford, who was Florida's chancellor for K-12 education from 2003 to 2005 and left over disagreements with Education Commissioner John Winn. ``We did poke around in that and frankly we didn't like what we saw.''But Bush said the small number of participants in the program would have made any analysis statistically weak. Moreover, he said vouchers still reached their primary goal of forcing public schools to improve.Charter schools settled into Florida's educational landscape with less furor and have spread quickly. Bush literally founded the movement in Florida - after he was defeated in the 1994 governor's race, he helped open the state's first charter school in Liberty City.More than 200 were active last school year, with more opening this fall. The typical charter has a slightly lower grade than district-run schools, but experts believe many of their students switched to charters because they had already struggled….
… But Bush's relentless push for vouchers and charters also permanently poisoned his relationship with with some teachers unions and local school systems, which saw the movement as an attack.Warford, who met with Bush regularly during his time as chancellor, said the administration never recovered from the enmity generated during those early fights. ``The objective was the paint the teachers union into a corner and make them look bad,'' said Warford, now the executive director of the Florida Association of School Administrators.As a result, he said the Bush administration implemented its later reforms - such as performance-based pay for teachers - by force instead of compromise.``Their idea of dialogue on this issue and most others is to call you into a room, tell you what they're going to do and call it dialogue,'' Warford said. ``If your only tool is a hammer, the whole world begins to look like a nail.''
JEB'S LAST SEMESTER
Miami Herald, The (FL)August 6, 2006
Statistics and facts were the policy-making currency of Jeb Bush's administration, and no one was wealthier than the governor himself. Initiatives were measured and remeasured, and where no yardstick existed he was happy to create one.From the beginning, his crusade to reinvent Florida's public education system was built around numbers…
… Bush acknowledged the disappointing progress among high-school students, but said he expects improvement over the next few years. Before the end of the decade, children who started school under Bush's programs will be graduating…
… A former top education official said the results for older children were inevitable because Bush deliberately focused most of his efforts on elementary school-age children, who have been studied more extensively and are considered easier to help.``We were picking the low-hanging fruit, and we were fighting the wrong problem,'' said Jim Warford, the former chancellor for K-12 education, who was the state's No. 2 education official from 2002 to 2005.He said Bush knew middle and high schools would be much harder to fix and wanted to wait until the end of his term to try - too late for him to be held accountable if the plan failed…
Chancellor To Create Office of Parent Support
New York Sun, The (NY)January 26, 2007
After weathering a week of criticism of the latest plan to overhaul the school bureaucracy, the [New York] city schools chancellor, Joel Klein, is creating a new position in the schools administration, "CEO of Parent Engagement." …
… Mr. Klein, who has pointed to anecdotal testimony of principals as evidence of the success … He noted that some of the other changes proposed by the mayor have been tried in other school districts, referring to the proposed A to F grading system for schools which mirrors the A-plus program introduced by then-Governor Jeb Bush of Florida in 1999.
"It's had a big impact" in Florida, he said. "I think there's no question that the schools in Florida have moved forward. I think any independent evaluation of that will show that."
The former chancellor of Florida public schools, Jim Warford, who was appointed by Mr. Bush in 2003 and later resigned because he said the A-plus program was too focused on test scores, said Florida had indeed gained when it came to elementary grade test scores. But he also noted that graduation rates had fallen under the A-plus program, of which the majority of Florida voters disapprove, according to a recent poll.
Mr. Warford, in a phone interview with The New York Sun, warned Mr. Klein to learn from Florida's mistakes, which he said included a top-down approach that excluded parent and teacher involvement in school reforms that led to the falling public support. "There was a lack of consensus building and flexibility," he said.
More than 300 tax-supported charter schools sprang up across Florida in the past decade. State officials tout them as a quality education option for students and parents. But many are poor performers, and 43% did not receive a school grade last year.
Orlando Sentinel, The (FL)March 25, 2007
Pat and Tammy Rasmussen had no idea they'd sent their son Daniel to one of the lowest-performing schools in Florida -- until he came home one day and said he was helping teach math class.
There had been hints. Richard Milburn Academy in New Port Richey initially had placed Daniel, a high-school junior, in classes he already had taken or did not need for graduation, the parents say. Homework consisted of crossword puzzles. Administrators offered to pay their son $50 for each friend he persuaded to join.The couple wanted a public school with small class sizes and rigorous instruction. Instead they chose one for potential dropouts. Only 12 percent of students could read at grade level.Daniel moved to a regular school, but not before the principal asked whether he could stay because of the "head count," Pat Rasmussen said. The count determined how much state money a school gets -- in Daniel's case, about $5,000."We never would have put him in there had we known," the father said.Daniel's detour to Richard Milburn was his family's introduction to Florida charter schools, a decade-long exercise in school choice that is supposed to improve the public education of all students.More than 300 charters teaching about 92,000 students have sprung up, funded by $1.5 billion in local, state and federal taxes in the past three years alone. Eighty schools are operating in Central Florida.But a statewide investigation by the Orlando Sentinel found that while many charters serve children well, scores of others offer a poor choice. Key findings, which the Sentinel will detail during four days, include:Low-performing schools. A disproportionate number of charters are among the worst campuses in Florida. They received about a quarter of the failing grades last year, even though they taught 3 percent of the state's students.Financial problems. More than half of charters report they are running at a loss, and nearly half had financial arrangements with insiders that would not be allowed in regular schools, such as board members renting a facility to the charter or doing business with the school.Lack of accountability. Forty-three percent of charters did not receive a letter grade from the state in 2006, which means they avoided the primary corrective steps imposed on public schools that do poorly. Some perform dismally year after year without raising any alarm or any push to change.Little oversight. The state has so few controls on charters that a Pensacola-area school was able to rent out teens for road work for five years. Now lawmakers are making it easier to open more and more charters.John Winn, who nurtured the charter movement as an adviser to former Gov. Jeb Bush and later state education commissioner, said the system is giving parents what they want: more choices on where they school their children."We need to insist on comparable academic accountability through school grading, and we must ensure that all approved charter proposals are of the highest quality," he said.But Jim Warford, Florida's former chancellor of public schools, said state officials were so busy promoting an alternative to conventional schools that they looked the other way when problems arose."I'm not opposed to charter schools or parent choices," he said, but "many times those schools were not held to the same accountability standards as regular public schools."
A LEADER FOR EDUCATION
Palm Beach Post, The (FL)April 23, 2007
Jim Warford had "no comment" two years ago when he abruptly quit or was forced out as chancellor of Florida's public schools. Since then, though, his comments to various newspapers, including The Post, have been atypical for a former Jeb Bush appointee.Mr. Warford said former Gov. Bush's A-Plus Plus plan requiring eighth-graders to pick a major was "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic" and would do little to solve the problems that keep so many high-schoolers from graduating.
He has criticized the state's "relentless focus on the FCAT" and said it is "intellectually indefensible" to take children out of public schools and put them into charter schools that have little oversight.He lamented that Gov. Bush focused on the "low-hanging fruit" of improving standardized scores in elementary grades while skating over harder-to-fix problems in high schools.Overall, Mr. Warford described Gov. Bush's view of education this way: "If your only tool is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail, and that's been their approach."Those comments and others indicate that Gov. Crist is right to be considering Mr. Warford for the top job of education commissioner. If selected, Mr. Warford, now executive director of the Florida Association of School Administrators, would be the permanent replacement for John Winn.Mr. Winn was an unquestioning believer in each Bush policy. The ex-governor had expected Mr. Winn to be chief protector of his legacy. But Gov. Crist had some of the same misgivings as Mr. Warford, who referred to Mr. Winn as "Jeb Bush's Donald Rumsfeld." After initial resistance, Mr. Winn got the hint and quit as education commissioner.There might be candidates as good as or better than Mr. Warford. But any good candidate would have to share his attitudes toward the A-Plus school grades, charter schools and the rest. Because of insurance and property taxes, Gov. Crist might not get to widespread FCAT reforms this year. When he does, he will need a commissioner who does not burn incense and chant every time the FCAT is mentioned.
Warford and FCAT politics
Ocala Star-Banner (FL)June 24, 2007
J im Warford's relatively short political career has been framed by the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. It's no accident, either.
The former Vanguard High video arts instructor was a political novice when he was elected superintendent of Marion County schools in 2000 on a promise to eliminate mediocrity in our classrooms. He quickly embraced then-Gov. Jeb Bush's groundbreaking A+ Plan and its centerpiece, the FCAT. Warford not only championed FCAT, he instituted his own homegrown testing program, known as the Continuous Improvement Model, or CIM, to track students' progress throughout the year in preparing for FCAT.CIM produced big gains on the FCAT in Marion County - and that caught the eye of Bush, for whom Warford was a kowtowing cheerleader. Bush rewarded Warford just two years into his term as superintendent by appointing the Ocalan state chancellor for K-12, the No. 2 job in the Florida Department of Education.Warford, though, is not short on opinions. So after three years as chancellor, Warford was shown the door by the self-proclaimed "education governor" because he dared to question some of Bush's education policies, including the overemphasis on FCAT results.Warford landed a job as executive director of the Florida Association of School Administrators, but he didn't leave Bush's inner circle quietly."What I saw was that 90 percent of the energy went to undermining our public schools with vouchers and charter schools," he said in a December 2006 interview."There was an arrogance, a hubris, a lack of coordination on every major issue," he said on another occasion.The cheerleader had become the critic, attacking Bush in a town and on an issue the governor controlled.Bush is gone now, and along with him his controversial and antagonistic education commissioner, John Winn. Gov. Charlie Crist encouraged Warford to apply for the open education commissioner's job, but it is the seven-member Florida Board of Education that has the final say.So, once again, Warford is not-so-quietly campaigning. He has written op-ed pieces on the FCAT debate for newspapers around the state, including this one. He is widely quoted in articles about the fortunes and future of FCAT. He has kept himself in the loop by working on a state commission examining how to remake our secondary school curriculums, which FCAT results suggest are lagging.Yes, Warford is once again campaigning to move up the political ladder.Whether Warford will be the next commissioner likely won't be decided for months; the Board of Education is conducting a national search. But rest assured that Warford's views on FCAT - given how he was Bush's frontman on the high-stakes test - will be of special interest to the Board of Education, Crist and the education community. Given that the majority of Floridians now question the over emphasis of FCAT in determining school grades, student promotion and funding, policymakers in Tallahassee are looking for ways to fix the system - again.I nterestingly, Warford is still an ardent fan of FCAT as an accountability tool. But he concurs with legions of teachers and parents that there are "real concerns about depending upon one test on one day." He's aiming his pitch at those FCAT skeptics."Jeb Bush won the accountability wars. But it will be left of Gov. Charlie Crist to win the peace," he wrote in a May 28 column in this section. "To do so, he must do something Bush was unable to do. He must win the hearts and minds of our public school leaders and teachers by giving them a voice. In the end, they are the only ones who can continue to improve our schools."" ... Florida's FCAT data clearly show our public schools have improved, at least on the only measures that they were told count, reading and math. The problem is, as principals and teachers know, there are many other important things schools do that no longer seem to count. Things like civics, art, music and P.E."Warford clearly hears the public's dissatisfaction with the punitive nature of Bush's FCAT on our schools and our children. And rest assured, that discontent is being heard and registered in the Legislature and elsewhere in Tallahassee, where there is a growing undercurrent for changing the power and pain of FCAT now that Bush is a private citizen.They're talking about FCAT in Tallahassee. It's an irresistible opening for Warford, and his campaign for his next political step is in full gear.
PICK EDUCATION LEADER TO PURGE JEB'S IDEOLOGY
Palm Beach Post, The (FL)July 25, 2007
According to Jeb Bush, every education program he undertook was "historic." So, why don't more qualified candidates want to be Florida's commissioner of education?The list of applicants by the July 13 deadline was so disappointing that the state extended the deadline 10 days. One reason for the weak response must be that former Gov. Bush built a department dedicated not to education but to himself and to his ideology that favored private schools over public schools, with vouchers and bogus school grades as the prime weapons.
…Gov. Crist forced out Mr. Winn by changing the Board of Education, but the Department of Education still needs a clean sweep of Jeb's acolytes. That's why even some of the strange applicants described Monday in The Post -- such as the Alabama teacher who couldn't pass the basic math test necessary for certification -- might be less harmful than "real" candidates such as Cheri Pierson Yecke. Mr. Winn hired her to be chancellor of Florida's public schools after she was forced out as Minnesota's education commissioner in part because of her belief in creationism.…If the Board of Education still wants a candidate with experience inside the Bush education machine, a good choice would be Jim Warford. He resigned as chancellor in 2005 because, as he notes in his application, "I disagreed professionally on matters of policy and leadership style" with Mr. Winn. Mr. Warford since has supported the FCAT but criticized giving the test too much weight.Mr. Warford, now executive director of the Florida Association of School Administrators, knows Florida's current system and has a willingness to change it. That's the kind of candidate who needs to be on the short list from the search firm next month. Choosing that kind of candidate truly would be historic.
A state education chief hopeful draws flak for claims he wrote music for big-name stars.
CANDIDATE'S RESUME RECEIVES A FINE-TUNING
St. Petersburg Times (FL)September 1, 2007
Three decades before he was a serious candidate to become Florida's next education commissioner, Jim Warford was a small-time entertainer trying to make a name in the music business.
He played in clubs. He wrote songs. He penned a minor hit.But did he really write songs for Kenny Rogers and Olivia Newton-John, as he claimed on a resume a few years ago?Rogers' agent says the claim "reeks of bogus."Warford stands by it, but recently removed it from his resume."I thought about somebody calling me up and saying, 'Can you prove it?'" said Warford, a former Marion County superintendent who now heads the Florida Association of School Administrators. "I don't think it's misleading in my own mind, but I can't prove it."Warford, 58, is one of seven candidates being considered for education commissioner, a top post that helps shape state education policy. The Board of Education is set to interview the candidates in Tampa on Sept. 17.In July, Warford submitted his new resume to the search firm assisting the Board of Education, one that differs the one posted on the Department of Education Web site when Warford was K-12 chancellor from June 2003 and July 2005.On the previous resume, Warford said he "wrote material for such artists as Olivia Newton-John and Kenny Rogers." On the current one, he said he "wrote material for Gusto/Starday Records," in Nashville.Warford said in the 1970s he wrote a song andhis manager told him Olivia Newton-John "looked at it seriously," but ultimately didn't record it.He said his manager told him Kenny Rogers' team wanted a follow-up to the hit, Lucille. So he penned an "answer song." The manager told him they considered it, but declined.Representatives for both singers said the artists could not recall Warford or the songs."It doesn't mean that he didn't submit songs" to Newton-John, said her press representative, Michael Caprio. But "hundreds of song writers" did.Kenny Rogers' representative, Bob Burwell, of Dreamcatcher Entertainment in Nashville, said he doubts Rogers would have considered a follow-up to Lucille, becauseanswer songs generally flop."It all just reeks of bogus to me," Burwell said.Granted, Warford said, lots of people pitched songs. "I never said I was Kenny Rogers' and Olivia Newton-John's songwriter."Warford's song did chart. Thanks for Leaving Lucille, recorded by Sherri Jerrico, on Gusto-Starday records, in 1977,peaked at No. 95.- - -On his earlier resume, he also wrote that he supervised a staff of "over 250" as entertainment director and consultant for "Florida's Silver Springs Attraction" between 1989 and 1998.As Marion County superintendent, he and business leaders startedCommunity Alliance for Results in Education, raising "over $170,000" to rewardprincipals and teachers."The current resume doesn't include either number.Warford initially said he dropped the Silver Springs figure because he didn't know the exact one but "that was the number I had in my head."Told later that a current Silver Springs official said he probably oversaw 75 to 100 workers, Warford called back to say he got the "over 250" figure from the former chief operating officer, and it included workers at Weeki Wachee Springs, which the company then owned.The former COO, Mike Jacobs, backed up Warford's account and number. Jacobsnow works for the Marion County school district.Carmen Maines, executive director of the Public Education Foundation of Marion County, said CARE raised $105,644.Warford said CARE business leaders paid for other projects too, and he thought of those as contributions "I used the term 'over' $170,000 to clearly indicate that this was an estimate.""I changed my resume because I wanted to be as accurate as possible," he also wrote. "I knew the numbers in question were estimates and I did not have documentation to confirm them in my possession."
Board Quizzes Education Chief Hopefuls - CANDIDATE FINALISTS TO BE NAMED TODAY
Tampa Tribune, The (FL)September 18, 2007
•James Warford, executive director of the Florida Association of School Administrators and former K-12 chancellor of education in Florida from 2003-2005. He is the only candidate without a doctorate degree. "This is a leadership position, not a management position." Warford said. He said there is a "crisis of confidence" in Florida's school accountability system and wants an independent audit. "Policy decisions need to go slower," he said. "The farther away from the classroom, the harder it is to keep it in perspective."
Warford won't be education commissioner
Ocala Star-Banner (FL)September 18, 2007
OCALA - Jim Warford, the former Marion County superintendent of schools and once the state's K-12 chancellor, did not make the final cut for the commissioner of education position after a State Board of Education vote this morning.
Three of the seven board members said this morning that they were ready to pick the next commissioner of education. However, the other four board members wanted to narrow the list down to three.The final three chosen Tuesday morning were: Cheri Yecke, Florida's current K-12 chancellor; Eric Smith, senior vice president of the College Board, a national not-for-profit group based in New York; and Joseph Marinelli, a New York state regional superintendent.Warford attended Tuesday morning's session. ''I have no regrets,'' he said in a telephone interview. ''I am really grateful for the following in Marion County and the support. I am sorry to let them down.''He said he was honored that School Board members Ron Crawford and Steve Hering drove to Tampa on Monday evening to see his interview. He said he just wished it would have turned out better.''That's unfortunate,'' said Crawford, the chairman of the Marion County School Board. ''I think he would have done a good job.''However, Warford said it actually isn't a bad day either.''The Warford family is not sad this morning,'' he said. Warford talked about the pressure, responsibility and the time needed to be commissioner of education.''My wife knows exactly what price that we would have had to pay,'' he said.Warford, who said he loves education, will continue working as director of the Florida Association of School Administrators, a position he loves.''I'm happy doing what I do for education,'' he said.Of 32 candidates who applied for the post, only 24 met the necessary criteria to even be considered. Warford was one of seven chosen as a finalist. The candidates appeared during 45-minute interview sessions Monday at the Tampa Airport Marriott……Tuesday's decision ended Warford's quest for the job.He taught video production at Vanguard High School until 1999, when he was elected Marion County superintendent of schools. Warford said Monday that, if chosen for the state's top education post, he would push for high school reading reform.While he was Marion County superintendent, Warford implemented the Continuous Improvement Model, which he cited as an example of his ability to think outside the box. He told board members Monday that he would be a unique candidate."I am the most unique and unconventional candidate you will interview today," Warford told the board on Monday. "I have always followed my heart."In 2003, Warford was named by then-Gov. Jeb Bush as the state's chancellor of K-12 education. Two years later, Warford stepped down after speaking out against some of Bush's education ideas.Warford then landed the job as director of the Florida Association of School Administrators.Once a proponent of the FCAT and other assessment testing, Warford recently went on the offensive against such testing, arguing that the FCAT needs work to better determine whether children are promoted.Warford said Monday that FCAT reforms at the high school level should include adding more benchmarks to better track student performance. He said the elementary and middle school FCAT process already is working well.
PICK AN EDUCATION LEADER WHO WILL BREAK WITH JEB
Palm Beach Post, The (FL)September 18, 2007
Jeb Bush appointed most members of the state Board of Education, so don't expect the next education commissioner the board hires to publicly trash the so-called Bush education "legacy."But the board, which interviewed finalists for the job Monday, at least should hire an administrator who can tell the good from the bad. That means someone who knows the difference between the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and bogus school grades, and someone who knows the difference between making districts pay attention to low-performing schools and handing out "corporate vouchers" to private schools without sufficient financial and academic oversight.
Gov. Crist, who can influence but not dictate the choice, has signaled that he wants a change. Most significantly, he forced out Education Commissioner John Winn and removed Phil Handy from the Board of Education. Both were hard-core Jeb ideologues.Two of the seven finalists have recent experience in statewide education. Jim Warford has the kind of track record the board should be looking for. Cheri Pierson Yecke is the kind of candidate to avoid.Mr. Warford was public school chancellor in the Department of Education from 2003 to 2005. He supports FCAT testing but complained that Gov. Bush misused the test to brand entire schools with inaccurate grades. For that offense, he was forced out. The willingness to improve the state's accountability system should be considered a strength. Mr. Warford now is executive director of the Florida Association of School Administrators.
Need a fix for the bar set too far
Ocala Star-Banner (FL)October 6, 2007
Jim Warford, Marion County's former schools superintendent, was recently rejected for the short list of nominees to be the new state education commissioner. We hope, however, one of Warford's ideas regarding the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, does resonate with the education establishment in Tallahassee, whoever winds up in the post.
In advance of last month's interview with the state Board of Education, Warford told the Star-Banner that if he got the job he would zero in on improving reading skills at the high school level. Warford believes that Florida has reached a crisis point with its high schoolers' ability to read.On Wednesday, a report by the Orlando Sentinel confirmed Warford's description: Only 41 percent of Florida's ninth-graders and a paltry 34 percent of 10th-graders could read at grade level - based on their FCAT scores, that is - compared to 62 percent of children in grades 3 through 7. The results, as Hillsborough County's testing chief aptly described it for the paper, can be likened to a "ski slope."Regardless of one's beliefs about FCAT, it's incomprehensible that two-thirds of the state's high school students cannot read. So, perhaps there's another reason, one many FCAT critics have suggested for years: that the test is flawed. Apparently, according to the Sentinel, that possibility has finally penetrated the mindset of the FCAT-ophiles among the state's chief educators……Warford was intent on addressing that situation had he gotten the job. He didn't, but officials in Tallahassee can do so, if they're willing to listen to the man who wanted to lead them.