If Only Florida Republican Legislators Had Actually Listened to Teachers


Niceville senator Don Gaetz knows better, but the live TV opportunity was too good to pass up. When FEA vice president Joanne McCall testified earlier this month that teachers weren’t generally against testing, Gaetz retorted that the FEA hasn’t supported an laws “requiring testing.”

As a skilled debater who often demonstrates the ability to argue either side, Gaetz knows teachers’ position testing. He knows that parents agree with teachers, too. FEA president Andy Ford articulated teacher’s position effectively in recent interview with James Call that appeared in SaintPetersBlog.

“Teachers aren’t arguing against testing in general, it is how the tests are being used. In this situation where we are going from one version of testing to another, we’re just asking for a break. Let’s see what we are asking kids to perform on is valid before we make life altering decisions.

“So we are not opposed to testing by any stretch of the imagination. It is the volume and how disruptive it is. And right now, quite frankly lets not have the consequences kick in and retain a kid who should not be retained or promote a kid who should not be promoted.”

Gaetz was a school board member before FCAT was imposed on the state’s children, teachers and schools. He’s been hearing the position Ford articulated so well since first being elected to the Okaloosa County School Board in 1994. And like other republican legislators, Gaetz isn’t interested in what teachers think. More from Ford:

“I think by having better government that would lend us not necessarily going to court as an option. We testify a lot of times to people who are not even paying attention. They are reading other things while we are up there. They are talking to one another. They are in the back getting coffee while people are trying to lay out a vision and a way to achieve what the legislature wants.

“And we’ve been ignored.

“If we had a level playing field, where the Senators and Representatives actually wanted to hear from the public and wanted to listen and gain their input and then craft a piece of legislation that is based on the input and everybody’s good ideas, I think that would be a way of saying, ‘Hey we were heard, we didn’t necessarily get it. We’re not going to go to court. ‘

“If you look back at Race to the Top, the good, the bad, the indifferent, former Gov. Crist did a good thing by bringing all of the stakeholders together. He locked us in the basement for 12 hours and wouldn’t let us out until we actually came up with a plan and we developed a plan within 12 hours that everybody in that room might not have loved, but we all bought into it.

“Those are the kinds of things that would prevent us from going to the third branch of government.”

It is fair to assume that state republican legislators like Gaetz are watching with interest the federal 3rd branch of government at work now addressing hyper-partisan initiatives by the Obama administration on Obamacare and immigration. With parental push-back occurring on two-fronts, one on Common Core and the other from the testing Opt-Out movement, Floridians would benefit from Tallahassee cloak room deliberations being televised, too.

 

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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