Pam Stewart’s Empty Arguments for the Status Quo

Miami Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho presented the case to the State Board of Education this week that implementation on Common Core in Florida is best done along with a pause in school grades.

“So much has changed as far as accountability that I am advocating suspending letter grades for schools for two to three years, because during a transition time, what is the value of an “A” versus a “B” or “C”?” asks Carvalho. “It’s become a broken record, everybody recognizes the accountability system is broken.”

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart brushed aside Carvahlo with, “I think that we, it’s my responsibility to be focused on the students in Florida and the school grading system will in fact motivate adults to meet the needs of students so to suspend that would not be best for our students in Florida.”

So a carrot-and-a-stick “motivation for adults” – she clearly means teachers – are necessary to meet the needs of students? What an outrageous slap in the face to the state’s teachers. Is that all she could come up with to defend Jeb Bush’s discredited and “broken accountability system?”

It’s moreover no surprise that no member of the board of education demanded that Stewart better defend her position. They are fully invested in the model and  have played an operative role in its dysfunction.

One year ago, an In the Public Interest report showed just how close Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) was to the Florida Department of Education. The report cataloged countless emails between FEE and FLDOE staffers. Scathing Purple Musings concluded this way at the time:

It clear that (FEE Director Patricia) Levesque and her staff have been enlisting the assets of the FLDOE to support legislation  they’ve crafted on behalf of their clients like Pearson and Charter Schools USA. Moreover, the never-ending requests for data reveal even more. FEE has been manipulating the FLDOE to conform to it’s agenda while using it as a tool to maintain the Florida Model Jeb Bush sells to state legislatures all over the country.

Stewart worked at the FLDOE from 2004 to 2009 and returned in 2011.  She, too, is fully invested in Florida’s status quo education model. Stewart’s spin campaign to just call Common Core Standards, “Florida Standards” reminds of the efforts of one of her predecessors, Gerard Robinson,  who urged to stop calling high-stakes tests, high-stakes tests.

It’s beginning to become clear that spin campaigns are all they have left.




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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2 Responses to Pam Stewart’s Empty Arguments for the Status Quo

  1. Mike Archer says:

    School grades have zero statistical validity. Evaluating schools, administrators, and teachers with test scores is a complete and utter joke. The people who promote this idea, or go along with it, are ignoring research and spouting marketing slogans by corporate parasites intent on bleeding taxpayers via multi-million dollar contracts for testing, related services, and materials. Testing is too important to let opportunists misuse it for their own benefit. We need to use testing properly, as intended, and stop the stupid test-based evaluations.

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