Florida Legislative Candidates Assail Education Cuts; Urge Testing Reforms


From Orlando Sentinel reporter John Busdecker:

More than any other issue discussed at Wednesday’s “Florida’s People, Florida’s Promise” forum for legislative candidates, it was education that dominated the conversation.

Several of the 16 candidates — both Democrats and Republicans — who spoke called for increased funding of public education and the need to reform the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

“I think we are tremendously overtesting our kids,” said John Bush, a Republican running in House District 28, which covers most of eastern Seminole County.

For more than three hours at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, an audience of more than 150 listened as moderators Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel and Keith Landry of WOFL-Channel 35 had the candidates answer audience-submitted questions.

Joe Saunders, a Democratic candidate running in House District 49, which covers the UCF area, pointed to a recent cut of $300 million for higher education.

“We are shooting ourselves in the foot by not funding education,” Saunders said.

Jobs, gun rights, abortion, taxes and Florida’s foreclosure crisis were among other topics discussed at the event sponsored by AARP, Children’s Home Society of Florida, Florida Coalition for Children, Florida TaxWatch, League of Women Voters, the Sentinel and Channel 35. Candidates running in 12 districts in Central Florida participated in the forum.

The most important take-away from this is that the questions were submitted by people in  the audience. They want would-be legislators to talk about education funding and testing. Members of both parties will say they want more funding. It’s a loser to say otherwise. But its good news that testing is receiving a hearing in voter interactions with politicians.

Two potential outs for Rick Scott and legislators still exists. First, they can hide behind the strict guidelines of the NCLB waiver. Ed Commissioner Gerard Robinson has been references these. The second – and much more disingenuous – is to claim they got rid of FCAT and replaced it with PARC, a national assessment test driven by common core standards. The switch to PARC was already planned and is an exercise in replacing one monster with another bigger one. But people who do this stuff for a living  know the common core standards monster well. Influential educator Lisa Nielsen aptly refers to them as the precursor to testing the crap out of kids.

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.
This entry was posted in EDUCATION, FLORIDA POLITICS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Florida Legislative Candidates Assail Education Cuts; Urge Testing Reforms

  1. The “precursor to testing the crap out of kids” is also a ready-made set of standards for developing text, curricula, and online tools, including teacher tools and student remediation materials. There’s an entire industry salivating over the public trough, and the common core standards being thrown into it. Profiteers are trying to climb out of this nation’s innovation dearth on the backs of our children, while the children are being fed the educational equivalent of “chicken nuggets.” It won’t matter which test is used, as long as we over-rely on the test du jour. We must re-examine the appropriate role of testing, in the context of other student and teacher measures, in a manner that is supported by research. (The draconian model embodied in SB 6/736, by the way, is not.) Thank you, Coach Bob, for your intrepid and exhaustive work in keeping us informed.

  2. Lisa Nielsen says:

    Thank you Bob for sharing my sentiment. I work in a district where the passion of teachers, students, and administrators has been stripped away due to high stakes tests. Naively many educators and administrators are hoping that the common core will change this all with authentic assessments aligned to the curriculum. The piece you cited from me was written as an eye-opener for those educators and beyond. I am starting to see the tide turn and people wake up in pockets throughout the U.S. Thank you for the work you do toward that end.

    • Bob Sikes says:

      I’m an amirer of your work, Lisa. Thank you for taking the time to comment. The tide is indeed turning and its happening right before our eyes in Florida. Hiding behind common core if what apologists for testing are doing now. What a battle of philosophy, ideals and policy this has become.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s