In a curious story that largely sailed under the radar, the Florida Times-Union has sued the Florida Department of Education to make value-added data from SB736 public. The Florida Education Association has joined the FLDOE in opposition. The Florida legislature has weighed in. Topher Sanders reports in the Times-Union:
About a week after an appeals court agreed to hear the Times-Union’s lawsuit to obtain the state’s value-added teacher data, a bill aimed at exempting the data from the public has been filed in the Legislature.
House Bill 7161 was filed Monday by Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach.
Adkins said she believed the Legislature intended there to be an exemption.
“This is really, in my opinion, consistent with the position of the Legislature when [it] passed the student success act,” she said.
Adkins said her bill also codifies the recent Circuit Court’s ruling.
The proposal was first put forth by Adkins in the House’s education committee where it was passed 13-5.
“It’s very unusual and truly unfortunate that someone would try to change the open records laws to prevent the public from seeing this data about their educators,” Times-Union Editor Frank Denton said. “We believe in the current law and believe that our court appeal will prevail. I hope the Legislature will support the public’s right to see this data about the quality of its teachers.”
It’s fair to ask Adkins – a proponent of Parent Trigger – why she is against making teacher evaluation data public while being for using it publicly in Florida’s Parent Trigger legislation. A provision of the bill requires parents be notified in the event their child has a teacher who has been rated ineffective for two years in a row with the same data she wants to keep private. Letters which are sent to parents will certainly become public, and in the worst way. Can’t wait to see one of these letters shared on Facebook.
Such a contradiction of intentions demonstrates a serious lack of foresight by Florida’s republican legislators. Consider the following in the senate version of Parent Trigger:
8 the school district to give parents of public school
9 students, upon request, a performance evaluation for
10 each classroom teacher assigned to their child;
11 requiring the school district to notify parents of a
12 public school student being taught by an out-of-field
13 teacher or by a teacher with an unsatisfactory
14 performance rating;
Florida’s republican legislators have backed themselves into a corner. You can’t intellectually defend passing legislation which keeps information private while passing another which makes it public.