Palm Beach School Board Blasts FCAT; Is Texas-Style Opposition Next?

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


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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4 Responses to Palm Beach School Board Blasts FCAT; Is Texas-Style Opposition Next?

  1. Stacy Gutner says:

    Love that last part Bob, “Hard to do if you’ve been touting parental choice”!! Woo pee!!!

  2. Jodie says:

    Funny thing is that none of the three, with the exception of Rhee and her three-year miracle stint, have been teachers. Why are we listening to people who have no idea what it is like to be in the classroom? When are we going to start letting educators and people who study education for a living make decisions as to the best ways to educate our children?

  3. Ayn Marie says:

    The current system needs a serious revision. With so many schools districts in Florida that are far too large to manage, I’ve seen board members: fail to make the best decisions on behalf of student learning; lose touch with communities; become arrogant about their position; and blindly follow the superintendent and staff to the detriment of student learning and teachers in the classroom.
    Individuals (students, teachers, parents) are lost in the bureaucracy. As per information in the book, Exposing the Public Education System, our small communities can do better – we can take back our community schools under the right structure with state support to ensure individual student learning and competent teaching. Big corporations and big government end up serving themselves.
    As president of a 3,000-home resident’s association, I’m certain that there would sufficient volunteers to serve on individual school boards.
    Did you notice that the powers that be tend to frame and define the fight to misdirect our energies toward fighting to keep the status quo? I remain unconvinced that most interest groups that benefit from the billion/trillion dollar education pie want to give up any control over their territory. Whatever happened to focusing on the students?

  4. Stacy Gutner says:

    Just to let you know Ayn Marie…………… Here in Palm Beach County where our district is the 11th largest in the country, we the people elected the board, they know they work for the stakeholders, (the people) and even our new Superintendent knows that he works for us. Yes, at one time the Super ran everything, the board only listened to him and it was a big mess. Three years ago our change started coming about, and though it may never be perfect it is a whole lot better then it was. WE THE PEOPLE ROSE UP AND MADE THE CHANGE HAPPEN………….and now we as the people can make the change happen nationally, and we are trying. We will not give up!!!

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