Florida’s “Reckless” Policy Driven By “Education Elites” and the “Paid to Advocate”

Former Florida republican senator and one-time gubernatorial candidate Paula Dockery has never been part of the merry education reform bandwagon the vast majority of her state colleagues jumped on just because Jeb Bush said. Much of her post-legislative days have been spent writing about just this. Her informative Miami Herald opinion piece which was published late last month serves as a take down of the state’s education reform crowd.

It’s reckless at best to continue to base student, teacher and school outcomes on a test that hasn’t been fully developed or tested. Opponents on both sides of the political spectrum have correctly called for a cautionary timeout on testing until the test can be evaluated and validated.

With little movement at the state level other than pacifying platitudes, concerned parents have taken to the school boards to voice their frustration and demands regarding the continuous expansion of testing over teaching.

It was not the federal government that bullied the school boards; it was the state of Florida. And it was not the federal bureaucrats who have been pushing for this “nationalized” approach. Rather, it’s the educational elite — those who start think tanks and foundations and associations to promote school choice.

The “paid to advocate” crowd that pushes the idea of parental choice as it pertains to vouchers and charter schools is also the crowd pushing for more and more standardized testing in public schools.

Their advocacy for their “parents know best what’s right for their children” mantra applies to school choice, but is fiercely challenged when it comes to standardized testing

Dockery is on to the put-up-or-shut-up scenario for the “paid to advocate education elites who work for Bush and Scott. As she recognized the same advocates who push for school choice through vouchers and charter schools also push for  standardized testing, Dockery proposed they let parents “opt-out” of testing.

This Dockery knows that allowing “opt-out” to public school parents is a red line for them. Test scores – especially poor scores  which are certain in Florida now Utah’s results are in – are the currency they require to drive their privatization agenda. Last spring’s passage of voucher expansion assured that private schools would not have to take the Utah tests that public school kids will.

So much for a level playing field, but it was never really about that anyway.


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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