It was always going to be easy for Rick Scott to savage Charlie Crist. For a registered republican voter like this writer, Crist’s syrupy musings for Barack Obama and Obamacare are cringe worthy. But Scott won’t be getting this vote next month. Crist will.
There are conservative arguments for Scott’s ouster, and they will be explored in this space over the next few weeks. But this post will be about Florida’s oppressive, incoherent and corrupt high stakes test regime. Its gotten worse under Scott. Consider this from the editors of the Tampa Bay Times on the rush to implement new Common Core Standards based tests in March.
But the real potential damage is to children, whose performance on the rushed tests may determine if they graduate or get promoted; and to teachers, whose pay or job security could be on the line. The superintendents are calling for the state to delay for at least a year such high-stakes consequences until the tests are fully vetted and assessed.
So far, their pleas are falling on deaf ears. Republican legislative leaders refuse to give ground and Gov. Rick Scott has done nothing to encourage them. They appear willing to jeopardize students’ futures to avoid political consequences of their bad decisions and rush to test. Real leadership would make the hard choices to get the Florida State Assessments right, regardless of how long it takes
Scott’s not interested in leading. His implementation of the new tests – fresh off field testing in Utah – is ideologically driven. Scott, along with republican legislators, the Chamber of Commerce and Jeb Bush has to be right on Common Core at any cost.
The politically and misleadingly named Florida Standards and the new assessments from Utah are a creation of a powerful and self-righteously anointed few. Charlie Crist, though on board with Common Core, is on record of being against the current domination of testing in Florida schools. He penned this in a September 2013 opinion piece:
So while I believe it important that we adopt these standards, we also need to make sure that the testing instruments we use to measure them are not overemphasized in our schools.
I’ve always supported testing, but testing is not teaching. Teachers should not be spending all their time administering tests, nor should tests be so important that schools become test-taking factories where teachers only teach to tests. And focusing on testing shouldn’t come at the expense of programs like art, music, wellness and fitness, and subjects not on the tests.
A Charlie Crist governorship will thankfully be walking back the state’s emphasis on high-stakes testing. This week’s Times editorial highlights the concerns and caution which the state’s school superintendents are urging. Crist’s appointments will be much closer to the superintendents than any of Scott’s have been. Leadership is listening. The Scott-led cabal gives lip service to professional educators which masquerades as listening. Floridians will get real leadership from Charlie Crist on education policy.