Small wonder Florida republican legislators want to end salaries of school board members. They can’t have high-profile opposition to the one thing they cannot go without to drive their privatization agenda. Last night, members of the Palm Beach county school board let everyone know that they didn’t care for FCAT and didn’t like the effect it had on children. From Palm Beach Post reporter Allisson Ross-Ferrelli:
Amid decisions about smoking and cellphone use at schools, four board members called for a decreased emphasis on the high-stakes standardized tests known as the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests.
FCAT scores affect school grades, teacher evaluations, course assignments and promotion and graduation decisions. Wednesday marked the third straight day of the tests, which cover reading, math and science.
“Students are so upset and anxious, they’re losing their hair, they’re not eating, they’re not sleeping,” school board member Karen Brill said. Board Chairman Frank Barbieri and members Marcia Andrews and Jenny Prior-Brown echoed her sentiments
It’s just one test,” Andrews said. “One test does not measure a student. But since we’re under the mandate of the state with this, we’ll have to do the best we can.”
Barbieri suggested having board members discuss signing a resolution opposing high-stakes standardized tests and said he’d like to see that come up on the board’s agenda sometime soon.
Other than that, all board members could offer students taking the FCATs was words of encouragement.
“Students, just do your best. That’s all we ask,” Andrews said. “We’re going to love you anyway tomorrow and the next day.”
Barbieri’s bold suggestion for the board to officially oppose high-stakes testing is a potential juggernaut. Such a move by the high-profile Palm Beach district could prompt other districts to follow suit. Such a movement is not new. More than 300 Texas districts have signed on in opposition to high-stakes testing as the focus of the state’s accountability system.
Somewhere, Jeb Bush must be having a meltdown. Of all places for his beloved tests to be opposed, it had to be the family’s home state of Texas. Is Florida next? Its furthermore fair to speculate that such vigorous opposition to testing from parents must surprise ed reforms leaders like Bush, Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan. They must have assumed that everybody would just buy into their accountability calls and teacher demonization act.
Ed reformers Bush, Rhee and Duncan cannot go forward without broad presumption that the narrow data which come from their tests is pure and accepted as a final arbiter. With wide-spread opposition growing, the three are left with telling parents that they just don’t know whats good for them. Hard to do if you’ve been touting parental choice.
UPDATE: From Valerie Strauss at her indespensible The Answer Sheet