Republican Exec Committee From Don Gaetz’ Hometown Calls for Support of Dem Amendments to SB 616


In late filings to SB 616, sponsor Senator John Legg added a provision which brought the bill closer to the House version and Senator Alan Hays – along with a Democrat co-sponsor, Senator Bill Montford – resubmitted his clear language to end third grade retention and to hold stakeholders harmless. In a remarkable email blast last night, the Okaloosa County Republican Executive Committees (OREC) urged passage of Hays-Montford along with one  of Miami Democrat Dwight Bullard which would allow districts flexibility to give paper exams and also allow them to choose a nationally norm referenced test in lieu of the FSA.

Tomorrow the floor of the Florida Senate will be taking up SB 616 and it will most likely come up for a final vote on Thursday. We have sent out many alerts and summaries on SB 616 as it has gone through the process and we can all agree it does not go far enough to protect our children from the negative effects of the Florida Standards Assessments.

Many amendments have been filed at this time that would make this bill much better for our children and teachers.

Senator Hayes and Senator Montford have put together amendments that would greatly strengthen the legislation making this year a baseline year for all students, teachers and schools. It would end the retention of 3rd graders for the FSA test scores for this year and would be a vital protection to teachers and school districts.

These are strong amendments that are needed to make this legislation help our children after the disaster of the FSA rollout.

Let your senator know that you will not accept them playing political games with our children. Call your senator and demand they support the Hayes/Montford Amendments and the Bullard Amendments. Make sure they do NOT support the Legg Amendment.

Bullard will be looking forward to pointing out to his republican colleague that they are allowing voucher schools to take “nationally norm-referenced tests” and skip all the accountability standards that they mandate on public schools. Can’t wait to hear some back-and-forth on that.

Influential public school advocacy group Fund Education Now agrees with the OREC:

Sen. Legg also filed a significant change to bring his bill closer to the House language.  Despite this, Sen. Legg was unable to add the words that would keep our children from being harmed by the pending FSA disaster.

Sen. Montford and Sen. Hayes realize it’s time to stop third grade retention, stop denying diplomas and end school grades until Florida’s testing system has been thoroughly vetted and determined to be valid.

Take action and please ask these key Senators SimmonsSen. HuckillSen. Detert, Sen. Garcia, Sen. Diaz de la Portilla, Sen. Evers and Sen. Dean to put Florida’s children first and embrace the adoption of the Hays/Montford Hold Harmless amendment to SB 616.

Our children must not be hurt based on the flawed FSA.

The OREC summarizes thus:

SB 616 is not the end of our fight on Common Core but it does show that the pressure you are putting on is making the Florida Legislature take notice. While many of the aspects of this legislation leaves important issues untouched in the statutes, it is important to understand that it does not worsen the situation in any manner and does make some small improvements to the overall subject.

This legislation is already much stronger than the house version and without it, Common Core and the FSA testing would remain the same as it was this year. 3rd grade students would still be retained automatically and without any recourse if SB 616 does not pass. Teachers will still have 50% of their teacher evaluations held to one test (either the FSA or other end of course exam).

I think we call can agree that what has happened this year with the roll out of the FSA, retaining 3rd graders for the results of one test and teachers having 50% of their evaluations relying on one test is not acceptable. While SB 616 is not the end of our fight, without it the consequences for our students, teachers and schools would be much worse.

Looks like there’s going to be drama on the senate floor after all.

The OREC position is stunning in that it demonstrates that state republicans see the link between common core standards and Florida’s burdensome accountability system. They don’t like it either. There are bound to be others.

Sadly it’s clear that Legg chose not to shepherd through real changes to SB 616 after all.

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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3 Responses to Republican Exec Committee From Don Gaetz’ Hometown Calls for Support of Dem Amendments to SB 616

  1. I have read the version to be discussed on the floor this morning. It is listed as number on, so please tune in to the Florida Channel to watch our Senate sell our children down the river for their own personal enrichment and to support Jeb Bush.

    Far from being status quo or slight improvement, this bill tightens the noose around our children’s necks and adds more costs to taxpayers. It reinforces the Common Core standards which cripple our children’s future. It takes more power from the local school districts to control testing from the state level for end of course evaluation. This removes any latitude for curriculum variations as pay and employment is determined by test results. It continues with the disastrous $220 Million contract with AIR tests which failed in Utah when testing there. These tests have not been validated, yet we are pretending that they give us “accountability”. They are using them to make life changing consequences to our children. Our taxpayers will be paying over $2 billion just to implement the computer testing regime imposed all the way down to kindergarten. This is an unfunded mandate which has never been disclosed to the public.

    Senator Gates said this in hearings:
    “Here’s what I’ve learned today”
    1 “We don’t know how much time is consumed by Statewide Assessments.”
    2 “We don’t know how much money it costs to perform state mandated tests.”
    3 “We don’t know whether tests that are performed by state mandate are valid and reliable.”
    4.“We’ve learned today that we have no contingency plan if there are problems with statewide assessments.”
    5. “We have not beta tested statewide assessments.”
    Then he voted for it.

    This is an unmitigated disaster for our children. There will be NO do over for them. While I appreciate the last minute efforts to save our children and teachers from the test consequences this year only, it does nothing to prevent the crippling damage of the curriculum itself.

    We should hold each and every legislator at fault for not standing for our kids. In the House, Even those who co-sponsored the bill that actually DID solve this absolutely critical problem voted FOR the House Committee bill, HB7069 which matches SB616 without objection.

    We will see who has the courage to stand for our kids this morning. They need to stand AGAINST this bill and insist on REAL change to Common Sense, NOT Common Core! Session starts at 10.

  2. correction: Typo. The bill is number ONE this morning

  3. Pingback: Legislation bill to end third grade retention; other testing news | CTA

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