Category Archives: Academic

Academic Editing by Richard Thripp, PhD

I founded Thripp Enterprises, LLC to offer academic / thesis / dissertation editing specializing in educational and social sciences. I am an experienced editor of published academic books, conference proceedings, dissertations, peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and more, mainly in social sciences and education in APA style.

Please email if you are interested. Please include details relating to your project. I can help at all stages of the editing process as well as coaching, feedback, and guidance at earlier stages including conceptualization and research design.

Click here to see my CV (my published editing work is on page 3).

FTCE and FELE Tutoring by Dr. Richard Thripp

I am offering tutoring for the FTCE and FELE (Florida Teacher Certification Exams and the leadership exams to be an assistant principal) at $100 per hour. This can be done over Zoom, or in-person in the Orlando, FL area. Please complete this Google Form:

Dr. Richard Thripp’s FTCE/FELE Tutoring Intake Form

I am a certified Florida teacher in these areas: Business Education 6–12, Computer Science K–12, Educational Media Specialist PK–12, Elementary Education K–6, Engineering and Technology Education 6–12, English 6–12, English for Speakers of Other Languages K–12, Exceptional Student Education K–12, Family and Consumer Sciences, General Science 5–9, Marketing 6–12, Mathematics 5–9, Mathematics 6–12, Music K–12, and Social Science 6–12; Reading Endorsed (via exam)

I have a PhD in Education in the Instructional Design & Technology track from University of Central Florida and have taught educational technology at the university level, social studies at the high school level, and exceptional student education, civics, math, and science at the middle school level.

I have also passed the FELE in its entirety but am not certified in Educational Leadership due to not having completed a Master’s or modified program in educational leadership.

I am offering to tutor for the FTCE and FELE at a rate of $100 / hour. Although this is higher than many tutors, you will be more successful under my guidance.

DISCLAIMER: We cannot discuss actual exam questions. It is a violation of the testing confidentiality agreement to do so and may have civil, criminal, and teacher licensure consequences. However, we can use the exam blueprint and sample questions from the state website, which are quite detailed and are best aligned with what you will encounter on the exams. I also focus on test-taking strategies. If you have already taken the exam and did not pass, we cannot discuss specific items, but we can use your detailed performance analysis from your score report.

Optional but helpful: Include the specific subject-area exam(s) you are studying for (if any), the specific sub-tests of the General Knowledge exam you are studying for (if applicable), and write about what study materials you are using now, what you are doing well at, and what you are having trouble with.

Your Homework

I will still tutor you even if you don’t do your homework, but you’ll get the best value for your money if you complete this homework before meeting with me.

Prior to the tutoring session, please use this website to do the following:

1. Review the exam blueprint(s) in detail
2. Take notes on areas of concern
3. Review the sample questions and try your best at answering them. Don’t reveal the answer until after you have taken your best guess, and take notes of the questions you miss. Each exam has from 15 to 90 sample questions (most have 30). Bring these notes to your tutoring session.
4. If your exam has an essay component, there will be a sample prompt available and it is advisable to write an essay for practice under exam conditions (timed, and do not use Google or spellcheck). Bring your essay to the tutoring session with Dr. Thripp.

To access the exam blueprint:
1. Click the exam name.
2. Under “Resources,” click “View the content resource materials available for this test”
3. Click “Competencies and Skills and Blueprint”

To access the sample questions:
1. Click the exam name.
2. Under “Resources,” click “View the content resource materials available for this test”
3. Click “Test Format and Sample Questions”
4. Click “Begin” (blue button) at bottom-right.

If your exam has multiple sub-tests, there is a blueprint and sample questions available for each. Please review all of them.

Please fill out this Google Form if you are interested:
Dr. Richard Thripp’s FTCE/FELE Tutoring Intake Form

Against Testing

Against Testing
By Dr. Richard Thripp
May 8, 2021

An over-emphasis on testing is often justified on the basis that we need to be able to measure student learning and achievement. Proponents of testing herald it as valuable data that teachers and administrators use to inform their practices. In truth, teachers rarely use data from many of the standardized or district-level assessments being used, and administrators often use it to draw precisely the wrong conclusions. Assessments themselves are often lacking in the way of design and relevance, with a focus on multiple-choice questions with 4 choices per question and questions that are misaligned with curricular standards, what is actually being taught, and what is of actual importance to be assessed. Furthermore, as a teacher, I have on several occasions observed district assessments where the “right” answer was in fact subjective and debatable, due to another choice being just as good. In some cases, such as a question that claimed the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee was established in the 1950s (it was established in 1938), they are just plain wrong.

Although I am astute enough to avoid subscribing to the logical fallacy of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, nonetheless it is not debatable that assessments gobble up valuable instructional time. Why do we keep finding ways to restrict, curtail, and interrupt instructional time? Tests on top of tests, along with unnecessarily disruptive events, announcements, safety drills, and school procedures that are almost deviously designed to entice truancy. For example, in my teaching practice at a high school, it was discovered mid-year by administration that they had no way to produce reports on students who skipped only some periods, but not the whole day. This burden was promptly shifted to teachers by way of a mass email asking teachers to report such students, which once again serves to take away instructional time. Many teachers have 10%, 20%, or even more of their periods taken up with tasks such as distributing testing notifications or other papers to students, writing passes, unlocking or asking a colleague to unlock credit retrieval assessments, and sending mountains of emails.

While the aforementioned problems are not new, in the wake of COVID-19 they have been exacerbated by increased absenteeism, and, in Florida, a 2020–2021 school year that started out with fake promises of fewer assessments, when in fact politicians and school leaders should have said we are not only going to do the regular amount of assessing, but add assessments for the noble goal of enhanced “monitoring” of student progress, plus administer all the assessments that were canceled last year due to the virus. Clear-minded educators know that assessments are of no value unless they are assessing the fruits of actual teaching and learning. Teachers and students alike are dejected, with a sizable proportion of students just guessing or picking at random on most items. Others want to succeed, but have not actually had the requisite instruction needed to succeed on the assessments. Instead of making time and space for education, we test them anyway, and then we congratulate ourselves for doing such a good job testing them, bandying about terms like “accountability” and “growth.” Sometimes, as in April 2021, we announce that statewide exams are not going to count, but we are still going to do them and they may count depending on how it goes. Where is the logic? When are we going to end this charade? Most educators are loath to speak out because in education, we live by the Japanese proverb, “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” This needs to change.

Florida Schools Should Be Mostly Online

Florida Schools Should Be Mostly Online

Monday, November 30, 2020

Dear reader,

Many of you may not be aware that Florida has long been a leader and pioneer in online learning with the founding of Florida Virtual School (FLVS) in 1997 and our continued focus on providing online learning opportunities to students of all ages. We are global leaders in e-learning, simulation, and remote technologies, home to the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando as well as the Institute for Simulation and Training, the Center for Research in Education Simulation Technology (CREST), TeachLivE™, and more at the University of Central Florida, and the Florida High Tech Corridor cooperative with University of Florida and University of South Florida. We have even gone so far as to pass a state law requiring most high school students to take at least one virtual course!

Why, now, do we find ourselves hamstrung during an unprecedented pandemic that should be Florida’s time to shine—a unique opportunity to demonstrate our expertise in remote instruction and e-learning from our homes, while preventing community spread of a deadly virus which repeatedly and indubitably spreads in our schools? We have an estimated 21,596,068 residents as of this year, and already 18,441 have died of COVID-19—over six times the deaths that occurred in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That’s one of every 1,171 Floridians who have perished.

These are not just meaningless numbers. Even a small city like New Smyrna Beach has lost 24 souls at this rate, and the worst may in fact lie ahead of us. Sources tell me that nine out of 10 schools in Volusia County have had a COVID-19 infection, and in my four weeks as a Social Studies Core Teacher at New Smyrna Beach High School, I have seen numerous students and administrators quarantined for potential exposure, as well as accounts from students who have recovered from COVID-19 that it was the sickest they have ever felt. There are reports that two paraprofessional educators in Volusia County have died of COVID-19, although these are discussed anonymously and in hushed voices for fear of reprisal—an unfortunate sentiment given that transparency is essential toward combating this crisis.

I have heard my fellow citizens explain that their children must be in school in order for them to work at their jobs and make ends meet. This is a legitimate concern, and is a reason I have advocated for comprehensive federal relief directed chiefly to the American people at large. This pandemic is on track to exceed the 420,000 total deaths our nation endured in World War II, in less than one-fourth of the time. We must not give up, nor consign ourselves to accepting the ongoing conflagration while waving the white flag of surrender on the basis of inevitability and small-minded group think. The importance of learning in a face-to-face, in-person setting is overwhelmingly superseded by the importance of not dying and not causing others to die—deaths which are senseless, preventable, and presently occurring, and should not be permitted to continue to occur.

While waiting for federal relief, we must take decisive action at the state, district, and school levels. My friend on the Volusia County School Board tells me that Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is calling the shots. Well, Mr. Corcoran, where are you? You pride yourself as a public servant, a husband and father to six, and the son of World War II veterans. You say you are a “passionate advocate for improving the education system in Florida” who “fully believes every child can learn and that all children deserve the opportunity to receive a world-class education.” There is a mountain of evidence emerging of the benefits of masking and of avoiding prolonged exposure in indoor spaces to people from outside one’s household. We haven’t even begun to educate our teachers on the science of COVID-19 epidemiology—some of my colleagues believe it is safe to put students in a “mask-free zone” of the classroom with desks precisely six feet apart, and our students and staff regularly flout masking and social distancing guidelines. It is quite difficult to provide a world-class education to a dead child, and furthermore it is best that their siblings, parents, grandparents, extended family, and teachers remain among the living.

As a co-editor of the 2019 academic anthology, Handbook of Research on Emerging Practices and Methods for K–12 Online and Blended Learning, I saw that many states, universities, and school districts across the United States are implementing blended and fully online learning with positive results. Consistency, training, administrative support, instructional design and planning, and ample technology and funding are key to successful e-learning initiatives. Unfortunately, we haven’t done well with these in Florida in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This needs to change. Although it is impossible to deliver a perfect solution on short notice, we just need something workable. Teachers should not be having to simultaneously broadcast to students at home—in fact teaching fully online would be more sensible. We should also be drawing on the expertise and technological resources of our public institutions including Florida Virtual School and the Center for Distributed Learning at University of Central Florida.

Presently, Volusia County schools are going back in-session for 3 weeks, which will undoubtedly be deadly for some and hazardous for many. Then, we have a winter break in excess of two weeks. Most districts follow a similar schedule. The rest of the school year should be fully or mostly online. Florida is about to surpass one million COVID-19 infections. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel with three promising vaccines on the horizon, but in the interim the suffering and deaths of my fellow Floridians is only intensifying. Recent, large-scale research shows that children are super spreaders of coronavirus. There is value in even occasional in-person instruction, but do it outdoors on a cool day, or at 20% capacity for the teachers, students, and parents who want it. Right now, we are sending previously online students back to school. I have 111 students and 105 of them are face-to-face. We already have blood on our hands. We should not seek to fully drench ourselves in blood.

During my Education PhD coursework at the University of Central Florida, I specialized in instructional design, teaching over 300 future teachers about educational technology in blended and fully online settings, working on e-learning projects at national, interdisciplinary, local, and collaborative levels, and working alongside in-service educators and administrators in doctoral courses. Some were assistant principals for schools who funded satellite Internet connections via USB dongles for students to work from home, on their school-provided laptops, in households that did not have reliable Internet connections (Spectrum cable Internet has now gone up to $69.99 per month here). We can provide remote instruction even for disadvantaged and marginalized students with the proper technology and funding. When there’s a hurricane, why is it that we are able to mobilize massive evacuations, cancel school, cancel football games, and suspend tolls on toll roads, for a disaster that kills so few people in comparison? Let’s give coronavirus the hurricane treatment.

Veteran teachers are retiring specifically because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are being forced to make a choice: Your money or your life? I started as a Social Studies Core Teacher at New Smyrna Beach High School on October 26, 2020 because the prior teacher resigned mid-year after more than two decades of service. My dissertation was on the Florida Retirement System. She and other teachers are giving up well over $100,000 each, because to receive a full pension you must work 30 years or wait until age 62. Although making way for new teachers is nice, and new teachers are much cheaper thanks to a decimation of retirement benefits orchestrated by the Florida legislature in 2011, the circumstances under which we are doing so are abhorrent. Our schools are in widespread upheaval, and it is clear that the teaching and learning that is occurring is severely diminished. Our classes are being disrupted with standardized testing make-ups and levels of truancy that are unprecedented in recent memory. We are losing veteran educators and bleeding institutional knowledge. Various people are haphazardly being confined to quarantine, and our teaching schedules continue to morph like Jell-O. At this point, it is clear to all who judiciously weigh the totality of the situation that Florida schools should turn to remote learning for the remainder of the 2020–2021 school year.

Dr. Richard Thripp
Social Studies Core Teacher
New Smyrna Beach High School

On American Financial Disenfranchisement: No Gift of Moral Hazard for the People

When will the American people enjoy the moral hazards conferred upon wealthy individuals and corporations?

It is so common to hear self-righteous commentary about the dangers of moral hazards that we scarcely notice it. A moral hazard occurs when someone is protected against risk, typically by the imposition of negative externalities. Typically we hear about unemployment benefits and other welfare payments imposing a moral hazard on society by enabling and encouraging freeloaders who are stealing your tax dollars. The evidence undergirding such rhetoric is dubious at best, and yet these purported moral hazards receive infinitely greater attention than enormous aid and safety nets provided to those who need and deserve them the least.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many American corporations came close to insolvency in March 2020, before being propped up by an unlimited firehose of aid from the Federal Reserve. Our central bank began to do something unprecedented, even during the Great Depression: To directly purchase corporate debt. This program is being conducted in addition to many other gifts that serve corporate interests and our nation’s arrogant, parasitic elites. The present disconnect between the American stock markets and Americans’ lived economic experiences is a product of this regime.

Typical, hard-working Americans have no mechanism by which to secure interest-free loans. They don’t have access to virtually unlimited credit lines that can be paid back whenever, with no imposition of interest or penalties. Their feet are held to the fire, if they are lucky enough to be issued credit at all.

In March, when the Federal Reserve stepped in, corporations that would otherwise have had to take loans at 15% interest, if they were lucky enough to be offered a loan at all, suddenly could secure much larger credit lines at half the interest or less. Nationwide, the value of this gift soared into the trillions, as can be seen in corporate valuations and the increase in wealth for the top 1% of Americans, the top 0.1% in particular, and the top 0.01% especially.

This gift is barely recognized. Most Americans do not even understand it. We don’t have laws to tax or regulate it. It’s a quintessential moral hazard, allowing firms to operate in a sandbox where profits are privatized but risk and losses are borne by the people. Similar, smaller moral hazards are conferred regularly upon wealthy and privileged Americans.

One is left asking: When will we confer a gift of moral hazard to the people at large?

The oppression of people of color in the United States of America is as much encapsulated by a knee on George Floyd’s neck as it is explicated in our regime of economic oppression and financial disenfranchisement. The mechanisms and tautologies of these deprivations are sweeping and manifold. One manifestation of this is the proliferation of alternative financial services—payday lenders, check cashing fees, and more. There are many others, and they affect the vast majority of Americans to varying degrees. Student loans and credit cards come to mind. Credit reports and their ramifications are part of this oppression. Bankruptcy is socioeconomically stigmatized and harshly penalized for individuals, but celebrated and rewarded for big business and American elites.

During my congressional campaign, I came to support a universal basic income of $1,000 per month to each American adult, universal healthcare (Medicare for All) for all Americans guaranteed and paid by the federal government, and assumption and forgiveness of all student loan debts public and private. Even these proposals do not nearly approach parity with the value of the benefits, gifts, and privileges afforded to those at or near the top of our economy. The American people are being economically murdered. We are being killed, put in danger, marginalized and derided, having to suffer for no just cause, and having our lives shortened by inequality, inequity, disenfranchisement, and oppression. Meanwhile, those who reap the rewards of this unjust regime have the gumption and obliviousness to believe they earned it in full.

What is the #1 predictor of entrepreneurial success? Not ingenuity, grit, or tenacity. It’s access to pre-existing wealth, such as your family’s money and connections. The United States of America isn’t a meritocracy. In fact, it is similar to aristocratic regimes we overthrew and rebuked.

American financial disenfranchisement is only getting worse, and nothing has been solved. To add insult to injury, the climate crisis has been disproportionately caused by plutocrats—and yet the brunt of the ramifications are borne by disadvantaged people. In 2020, this has become clearer than ever before. We must speak up, speak out, march, lobby, protest—and yes, run for elected office and win.