Make no mistake. FCAT is Jeb Bush’s baby. He, in fact, has staked his entire reputation on them. It is FCAT which is the basis for the school grade model he touts when he speaks to legislatures all over the country and is one which he believes should replace NCLB’s flawed, rigid guidelines. His foundation has naturally come out in opposition to changes in the way FCAT scores are utilized.
That is hard to swallow given the “college remediation issue,” said Mary Laura Bragg, director of state policy for former Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education.
Bragg, who used to run the education department’s reading initiative, was on the panel with Vogel but did not agree with its recommendation on the three tests in question.
Bragg, like her boss, apparently see FCAT as the only benchmark that measures success in Florida’s students. The frightening increase in the numbers of college freshmen who needs some sort of remediation in reading, writing or math occurred on their watch. Her answer defines insanity downward as she – and by association, Bush – insist upon doing the same thing in hopes of getting different results.
But battle lines have clearly been drawn. The state’s educators and school boards want changes in the role FCAT plays in school grades. Bush’s foundation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce want more of the same. The invisible elephant in the room is corporate giant Pearson, whose very existence depends on the sanctity of Bush’s FCAT. Any chinks in the FCAT armour could start a wave of justifiable discontent for standardized testing that neither Pearson nor Bush want. At some point Florida voters will begin to realize that the dollar dots are connected.