A College Football Parody that Explains Florida’s Education Follies

Randy Schultz ripped Rick Scott and the hand-picked lackeys on the Florida Board of Education in this morning’s Palm Beach Post. Well, Schultz actually ripped just about everyone who’s responsible for Florida’s education follies.

Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson, whom the board selected just a year ago, resigned last week. Gov. Scott said in a statement that Mr. Robinson “has been a tireless advocate for creating quality learning opportunities for all of Florida’s students, and he will certainly be missed.” Sure. Gov. Scott will miss Gerard Robinson as much as he has missed Eric Smith. Two months after taking office, the governor forced out Mr. Smith as education commissioner.

No one is saying so publicly, but the governor also forced out Gerard Robinson. The Board of Education played along. The governor appoints the seven board members, three of whom are Scott appointees. Collectively, they have training in science, medicine, finance, marketing, law and public relations, but not education. One board member spent a year as superintendent in Monroe County.

Maybe that explains why Mr. Robinson was such a terrible choice. He has one year’s teaching experience. His advocacy for “choice” programs — charter schools and vouchers — got him named Virginia’s secretary of education, and appealed to the politics of the Florida board. He never moved to Florida, though he did hold “Conversations With the Commissioner” around the state. He was paid $275,000. As all those corporate folks on the Board of Education would say, you can’t hire good people on the cheap.

Whats happening in Florida since Jeb Bush’s regime is akin to powerful, rich boosters taking over all aspects of your favorite college football team – even coaching. The head coach, Robinson, another know-it-all with an agenda and without any experience, just got canned. They can’t change the players (parents, students, teachers) but they will just tell the interim head coach, Pam Stewart, to keep running the same offense and defense. They plan on changing the name of them anyhow. From FCAT to PARC. And from Sunshine State Standards to  Common Core Standards.

They’ve checked with some fellow named Duncan and will continue to use the same scoring system. Instead of touchdown, field goals extra points and the occasional safety (graduation rates, college or trade readiness, portfolios of actual achievement, and special success plans for kids with special needs) we will continue to, um, measure success through pass completion rates, yards per carry, total offense and total defense. (FCAT scores, number of kids taking AP classes, number of kids who took the test) Above all else, one size fits all.

The boosters and their puppet coaches will continue their creepy desire to separate the players and creating divisions between them. While parent trigger didn’t work last year, the president of the booster club (Bush) wants to bring it back again this season. All they need to do its get half of the parents (nevermind there are other parents and students and teachers are teammates) Bush knows  that as parents go, so go children. He and his boosters want to do away with teachers to save money and gain more control. They figure there as these intern coaches from an outfit called TFA they can work to death on the cheap for a three years. They’ll eventually get burned out on focusing on keeping those test percentages up.

Bush and his boosters really don’t want to cheer for the team you see. They want to make money off of it. It’s why they don’t keep score, but just keep stats. Keeping score gives credit to the team. Just keeping stats gives credit and cold hard cash from attendance and media revenues (taxpayer money) to boosters.

Like any self-absorbed, powerful booster of any college football program across the country, Bush feels that everything has to go through him. Other boosters have to see things hs way or they just don’t get to be boosters . They’ll have to stay fans (taxpayers) and do as they are told (like Robinson told state school board members). Not to worry, Bush will take the price of your ticket (your taxes) and give it to the boosters who see things his way (Pearson, for-profit charter school operators, hedge fund managers hiding in not-for-profits).



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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