Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach) heard the applause from the gallery after a public school teacher’s testimony against Florida’s continued devotion to high-stakes tests. It was the only time anyone drew such a reaction during Monday’s House Education Appropriations hearing on Adkin’s HB 7117 which establishes a one-year delay in “holding schools harmless’ for school grades. The change was prompted because of with new state tests and full implementation of Common Core Standards.
Even though Democrats were conciliatory during testimony – three of the five on the committee voted in favor – Adkins chose to lash out at the opponents in the room and her colleagues who voted no.
Her shrill closing testimony included the reemphasis of her false assertion that Florida schools have had these standards since 2010. Both Rep. Karen Castor Dentel (D-Maitland) and FEA President Andy Ford pointed out that only K-2 kids have had them since 2010. Never mind education commissioners Pam Stewart’s two months old “tweak” to Common Core that includes the laughable new name, Florida Standards. It’s these realities which prompted a longer pause from teachers, school boards and superintendents.
Adkin’s insistence upon her own talking points in the face of the obvious serves as the latest example of the zealotry among the Republican House caucus to advance Jeb Bush’s agenda.
Adkins took direct aim at public schools and the opposition to high-stakes testing when she emphasized that “we have to hold schools accountable for the money we send them.” Her hypocrisy is easily unmasked by her vote 18 days ago for voucher expansion. Private schools who accept voucher money do not have to take the same tests. So much for ‘holding schools accountable for the money we send them.”
Chairman Erik Fresen (R-Miami) used his own time at the end to advance talking points that are being used by Bush’s new web site when he pointed to the success of Bush’s A+ program.
Much is revealed in the grandstanding by Adkins and Fresen on a bill which is receiving bi-partisan support and compliments from people who usually oppose them. At the very least, they realize that they haven’t been changing any hearts and minds and are more isolated than ever. Both saw the chance to take the bully pulpit to hammer opponents and to control the narrative.
They must be worried.