St. Lucie County Superintendent of Schools, Michael Lannon isn’t happy with Florida’s school grade system. From reporter Kelly Tyko of Scripps Treasure Coast News:
“The manipulated testing, judging and accountability culture that has developed in Florida is now so greatly politically driven that I believe the (state board of education) and (Department of Education) have destroyed the credibility of assessment in our state,” St. Lucie County Schools Superintendent Michael Lannon wrote in an email to Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers on Friday. “I am greatly disturbed by the manipulation as it gets in the way of great teaching and engaged learning.”………”The artificial grade is what it is,” Lannon said. “Our perspective has always been that all this merely shifts the emphasis away from making continuous progress, which we are accomplishing, and focuses on an artificial grade from a manipulated process.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel “of the state’s 67 districts, 39 slipped a letter grade and none improved. Seven earned D’s compared to one last year, while the number earning C’s nearly doubled to 25 this year vs. 13 last year.” Lannon is justified in labeling this mess as “politically driven” although blame should not be placed at the feet of the state board and FLDOE. That belongs to Florida’s republican legislators, Rick Scott and uber-lobbyist Jeb Bush. Public support for their education agenda is given by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Council of 100 and Florida Tax Watch.
Are we seeing the second stage of the collapse of Jeb Bush’s Florida way? The Bush allies on the board knew they had a problem when the FCAT Writes scores were released this spring. The changed the rules in 12 hours to save themselves. With Florida’s children taking more and more tests, taxpayers are quickly finding another sharp decline in grades to be dubious and, as Lannon says, “artificial.”
Are even some hardliners beginning to consider the once unthinkable in that Bush may have been wrong? They’ve not seen evidence of late that he’s been right. A Miami business leader warned last weekend that the new, more rigid school grade formula would hurt the business sector and would disincline people from moving to an area. A CNBC study found Florida has lost ground on both business and education.
A desperate, furious PR campaign by Bush loyalists and surrogates is underway to save the former Florida governor’s legacy as the education visionary who save the nation’s schools. Dissatisfaction with high-stakes testing and the school grade formula cannot be defended by sermons. Especially not when failure of public policy is clear and palpable.