In a remarkable two days of Facebook back-and-forth with a handful of Florida parents regarding Florida’s new FSA tests, Fernandina Beach republican state senator Janet Adkins engaged with Sandy Stenoff, co-founder Opt-Out Florida and Opt-Out Orlando and made the following comment:
Janet Adkins Sandy – have you reviewed HB 7069? In Florida you have school choice, do you believe that exercising these school choice rights you can “opt out” of standardized testing? If not I would like to know how school choice does not allow you to “opt out” – I have a fundamental belief in parent rights and believe that we need a system of education that is truly student centered.
Gradebook’s Jefferey Solochek wrote of the exchanges on March 16 and then updated his story to indicate that Akins had taken her original post down. Stenoff was taking issue with Florida commissioner of education Pam Stewart’s assertion that Florida students cannot legally opt-out of state-mandated testing.
Its unclear if Adkins believes that HB 7069 or its companion SB 744 in anyway address a parent’s right to opt-out of state testing, but her philosophical remark on school choice leaves little doubt. Her remark is at odds with a decade of republican legislative intent. Small wonder Adkins took it down.
Are republicans realizing that they can no longer resolve the difference between their school choice rhetoric and the two different systems educations they’ve set up? On one hand, a hyper-accountability system with mandatory testing is etched in stone for Florida’s public schools. While on the other hand, republicans have set up a school voucher system which has no such accountability and gets to take different tests.
Adkins’ Facebook post is an extraordinary political gaffe with ramifications that will extend beyond the current legislative session. The Wall Street Journal is speculating that resistance to Jeb Bush’s test-based policies are complicating his campaign. Adkins has enjoyed Bush’s past endorsements and like many other republican legislators, personally invested in Bush’s ascendency to the White House. With testing meltdowns mounting and legislators constantly facing angry voters, it’s going to be difficult to run out the clock.