From Collier County reporter Sophie Neilsen-Kolding for NBC2:
The Southwest Florida Citizens’ Alliance paid for robo calls to 55,000 voters across the state and visited Representative Kathleen Passidomo’s Collier office and spoke with her staff. Then they made their way to Senator Garrett Richter’s office to do the same.
“We want him to vote no tomorrow,” (Keith) Flaugh said.
There is little chance that Sen. John Legg’s SB 616 will be voted down in the Senate Appropriations Committee today, but the amendment that Sen. Alan Hays is introducing provides republican senators like Richter a way to address the concerns of constituents. According to Jefferey Solochek of Gradebook, Hays’ intentions are as follows:
To end third-grade retentions, graduation decisions and school grades based on state standardized test scores until the tests are more thoroughly vetted as valid.
Hays’ amendment, moreover, puts into place a much more certain “relief valve” for Florida in the event FSA testing meltdowns continue as standardized assessments may not be used:
Until the technology infrastructure, connectivity, and capacity of all public schools and school districts has been load tested and independently verified by either the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation or one of the member professional associations as appropriate, adequate, efficient, sustainable, and ready for successful deployment and implementation of online assessments
Senators have become skeptical of what they are being told by the Florida Department of Education and are long-accustomed to high-stakes test drama every spring. Hays’ amendment provides some welcome guidelines for the FDOE.
The interest in the Hays amendment from a wide variety of groups who have been pressuring republican senators has the potential to be quite persuasive. Much less ideological than the hyper-partisan House, senate republicans have often demonstrated that they are the adults in the room. Among those is Legg, SB 616’s sponsor, who could signal that he finds Hays amendment to be friendly.
Today won’t be the last opportunity for Hays to submit his amendment. There is enough support from senate republicans for Hays to bring it up again during a full floor vote. Long understood to be an independent thinker, Hays may do just that. Still, Hays’ amendment offers the sort of third way some of those adults among Hays’ republican colleagues in the senate have been looking for.