My Facebook friend and teaching colleague Catherine Martinez tactfully helps me out with editing my blog on occasion. She’s taken up her own pen this morning in a letter to the editor of the Palm Beach Post:
Let me get this straight: same students, same tests, same scores, different grades (“Recalculation restores school district’s ‘A’ status”). The Palm Beach County School District went from a B to an A without any interventions, just because of a 0.1 percent error on calculating some student grades?
When will parents, teachers and administrators rise up with one voice and tell Gov. Scott, Jeb Bush and all their minions that this a bad system that hurts students in the name of “rigor” and “accountability?” If this was just a “snapshot”— to use former Education Commission Gerard Robinson’s words — this would be just an interesting side story, but the future of this generation’s students is at stake.
How many students have been kept back in third grade due to what they did on one test one day of the year? How many students have been kept from a high school diploma because they could not pass the FCAT? How many teachers will be rated “ineffective” not because of how their students performed in their subject but how students at their schools performed in unrelated subject matters? How many teachers and administrators will give up the profession?
To anyone following this saga, it is evident that the emperor has no clothes. So when will our Legislature and governor wake up to the obvious?
I agree with Martinez final point. Change will have to be initiated by the elected officials. The educaton commissioner and what’s become a pro-privatization board don’t make the big policy decisions. The most fascinating thing to follow over the six months until the next legislative session will be to see how much influence former governor Jeb Bush still has. He uncharacteristically was drawn into responding publicly to leading education advocate Rita Solnet in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times’ Jeff Solocheck and Cara Fitzpatrick. Bush will be operating in differently than he has before. Instead of being on the offensive with new reforms, he’s found himself on the defensive. Bush isn’t used to spending political capital to protect the Florida model his bona fides are based.