The editors of the Tampa Bay Times preface their support for a pause in applying school grades in Florida by reminded readers that the existing scheme is already discredited. And while it’s extremely unlikely that any member of the highly politicized Florida Board of Education would pay attention, the editors make the case that they might want to pay attention to Bill Gates on the matter.
Bill Gates knows a thing or two about product development. So when the Microsoft billionaire’s foundation recommends that states wait at least two years before assigning high-stakes consequences to new Common Core State Standards testing schemes, Tallahassee should listen. Maintaining Florida’s already discredited school grading scheme simply for continuity’s sake makes no sense. A change as big and as important as Common Core requires more time for transition without the stress that potentially flawed assessments will lead to unjust consequences…..What the Gates foundation is advocating, frankly, is similar to the methodical approach it has underwritten in Hillsborough County as part of a major grant. The open letter from the Gates foundation’s education policy director, Vicki Phillips, noted, “Even the best new ideas aren’t self-fulfilling; they have to be put into practice wisely.”….What the Gates foundation is saying is that tying big consequences too soon to failing to meet the standards, before any assessments have been fully vetted, makes no sense, particularly for a change as significant as Common Core. Tallahassee should listen
The Board meets in five days on June 17th in Jacksonville to decide on final language. There are five relatively new members who have served for less than a year. With all picked by Rick Scott after likely being vetted by chairman Gary Chartrand, don’t expect any independent thinking. After the occasional tough question for Commissioner Pam Stewart, look for a group rubber stamp.
Chartrand has become the second most important power player in Florida education policy-making. Only former governor Jeb Bush wields more influence. His appointment runs out on the last day of this year. In the event current governor Rick Scott is dispatched by likely Democrat nominee Charlie Crist in November, the inauguration won’t take place until January 6, 2015. Scott could still reappoint his ally Chartrand before leaving office.