One had to assume that interim Florida education commissioner, Pam Stewart, had to pass a litmus test before getting the job. She had to be totally on board with the flawed Florida way that Rick Scott, Jeb Bush and republican legislators have been imposing. On Friday, Stewart earned her keep my poo-pooing an administrative judge’s smackdown of the manner the DOE and state board was implementing SB 736. From Gradebook’s Jeff Solochek:
The Florida Department of Education is downplaying an administrative law judge’s recent invalidation of the state’s rules on teacher evaluations, saying the decision spoke to form and not content.
Even so, incoming interim commissioner Pam Stewart acknowledged in a letter to superintendents that the ruling sets back the state’s effort, so that district’s approval of 2011-12 evaluations will carry forward into the current year. Long range, though, Stewart didn’t see any major changes to the state’s direction.
“This rule was being revised to reflect the review process you have already completed to demonstrate that you have met the requirements of the Student Success Act and, for the vast majority of you, Race to the Top. In addition, it addressed a new monitoring system required under the law that would not go into effect until future years,” she wrote. “Therefore, the ruling will not affect your continued implementation of your evaluation systems that you have worked so diligently and collaboratively to develop.”
Districts that want to make improvements to their evaluations still can do so, and get state review under existing rule.
“We will continue to work with you and with all of our Florida educators and education stakeholders to finalize this rule,” Stewart wrote.
Nobody really believes that Stewart is remotely serious about involving stakeholders as it would be a complete 180 from the last decade of republican rule. Maybe Stewart’s auditioning for the full time gig. None of the usual ed reform rock stars want the job as ed policy is run by Bush’s foundations and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
Stewart’s trying to put a brave face on Judge Van Laningham’s ruling. It’s quite different from her “move along, nothing to see here.” Van Laningham appeared to find the process was so flawed that he called the DOE’s attempt to implement SB736 “an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority in it’s entirity.” VAM is at least temporarily thrown out.
SBA 736 is now under serious legal challenge in two venues. On being the rules implementation challenge detailed here and the other an up coming constitutional challenge that begins on January 16. Meanwhile, FCAT and the high-stakes test regime to which SB 736 is anchored continues to burn and collapse upon itself.