Education policy junkies know that when they hear the words of Patricia Levesque, she is talking for her boss, former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Levesque is Bush’ top policy advisor for his two interchangeable non-profits – Foundation for Florida’s Future and the Foundation foe Excellence in Education. She’s been back in Tallahassee this week is a clear attempt to keep senate republicans in line on testing an accountability. One curious statement was captured by AP reporter Gary Fineout who quoted Levesque in a tweet that her group “could support eventually letting students use SAT/ACT as the high school test.
Really? What took you so long? Floridians are entitled to know why she and her boss weren’t doing this years ago as it would have established real data that compared Florida kids to the rest of the nation’s kids. Is it because it would jeopardize the profit margin of one of their major financial backers in Pearson? And now why on the ACT and SAT? Is it because both are College Board entities which are aligning with Common Core Standards? And College Board donated to a Bush foundation last year. And the father of common core, David Coleman is now the president of College Board.
This is crony capitalism on steroids and its makes Levesque’s assertion that Florida’s local school boards are acting to “benefit adults – and not kids” a real howler. From their salad days in which the Bush-Levesque team operated as if they could do no wrong, Floridians have witnessed an evolution from test at all costs – and do it our way to maybe you guys were right all along.
During the summer of 2012, a wave of discontent swept Florida in the form of a National Resolution Against High Stakes Testing which eventually was signed onto by over 20 local school boards. It’s acceptance by the state association of school boards was a near thing until then education of commissioner Gerard Robinson told the group at a luncheon that they essentially “would do as they were told.” The resolution was subsequently adopted in a landslide. In an interview that summer with Ocala Star-Banner editor Brad Rogers, Levesque tried to spin that it was individual districts – you know, those impertinent local school boards, who were at fault for the number of tests kids were taking.
Fast forwarding to November 2014, Levesque was singing a different tune. In a Tallahassee Democrat opinion piece, she subtly started making the case for her client College Board:
For example, if your child scores a Level 5 out of 5 on his end of course exam in Algebra I, you know that she knows algebra. You also know how her score stacks up against her peers across the state. By comparison, if you have 10,000 math teachers drawing up 10,000 final algebra exams, the results will not be nearly as trustworthy.
This is why the College Board develops Advanced Placement (AP) tests. It wants to ensure that all AP students are taught to the same college-level standard.
And that she was actually advocating for kinder, gentler and fewer tests:
I believe in fewer tests, better tests, and tests that serve a meaningful purpose — to ensure our schools prepare our children for a life where they are able to thrive.
The now departed Robinson arrived as one of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change from Virginia and emails show that he was a mere puppet and Levesque pulled the string as the former’s FLDOE parroted Levesque’s claim that its was the districts and their school boards, you see, which were responsible for so man tests.
The Bush-Levesque caliphate see obedience to high-stakes tests as their life’s blood and ultimate source of power and control. Independent local school boards are a sworn enemy. Their evolution on testing is far, far to clever and convenient.