Florida Republican Senator Rips Bush Foundation With “I’m Over You”

While Lutz republican senator John Legg is justifiably being complemented by many teachers this morning for the improvements to Florida’s test-based accountability system he managed in SB 616, he subtly revealed that Jeb Bush still holds far too much sway over state republican legislators. In his closing remarks he uttered the name of Bush’s PAC in saying “children have the right to rise. ”

Brandon republican senator Tom Lee obviously doesn’t share Legg’s feelings. From Brandon Larrabee for The News Service of Florida:

….the proposal does not include language that would have allowed students who do well on the SAT, ACT or tests in high-level classes like Advanced Placement courses to skip the corresponding statewide standardized tests. Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, withdrew that amendment after a blistering speech aimed at education accountability advocates like the Foundation for Florida’s Future, founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush.

“I’m done with the testing program in the state of Florida,” said Lee, a former Senate president and chairman of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee. “I’m done with the accountability system. Whoever those people are out there from whatever foundation they may be from, whatever testing groups they may be supporting: I’m over you. You’ve lost my confidence. And the reason you’ve lost my confidence is because I’ve got emails from you last night that said that you’re so married to this system that you don’t have a shred of common sense left.”‘

And Umatilla republican senator Alan Hays, a vocal and active critic during the entire session, stayed that way yesterday:

“It is sad that today, many of our teachers and even administrators are simply waiting to earn their retirement checks because our well-intentioned but misguided policies have taken the joy out of teaching,” Hays said.

While the Bush Foundation is calling this a victory and is patting itself on the back, the reality is that this is a roll-back of their reforms – and it was orchestrated by republicans.

The Senate proposal would put on hold the use of student test data for school grades, teacher evaluations and student promotion to fourth grade until the new Florida Standards Assessments can be independently validated. The testing platform used for the assessments has come under heavy criticism from lawmakers and the public after a rollout last month that featured log-in problems and a cyber attack.

The Senate would also scrap a law requiring school districts to come up with end-of-course tests in classes where the state doesn’t administer such exams; cap at 5 percent the share of students’ time that can be spent on testing; and reduce from 50 percent to a third the portion of a teacher’s evaluation tied to student performance.

Niceville republican senator Don Gaetz said “I think we’ve lost our way and we need to find it again.” And he wants to spend his final year in the Senate on a mission “to bring some order out of chaos.” It became clear on Wednesday that Gaetz meant what he said when he alligned with both Legg and democrat senator Bill Montford to solidify protections against FSA’s current problems.

The mantra Floridians first heard at Bush’s Tallahassee pep rally in February from House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (R-Merritt Island) that “we will not retreat from accountability,” obviously made a lot of republican senators cringe. There are sure to be more than one who agreed with Tom Lee when he said, “I’m over you.”

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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15 Responses to Florida Republican Senator Rips Bush Foundation With “I’m Over You”

  1. Autumn Moon says:

    Teachers are not waiting to retire….they are leaving early in droves. This testing mania has found its way to schools for the profoundly handicapped, who must take EOCs and standardized tests. Abusive!

  2. Wes Locke says:

    Great post! I have worked closely with a senator mentioned here, and I know first hand that the shadow of Jeb Bush is growing lighter! The voices of concerned parents, teachers, and administrators is slowly, but surely, overtaking Mr. Bush’s hold on the legislature.

  3. Sandra says:

    Wes, I do not believe that the shadow of Jeb Bush is growing lighter. The failure to add an amendment to hold students harmless, a simple one sentence provision and one that has been incorporated in several states across the nation, is evidence of the weight of power and influence. I can think of no reason for that one sentence that was logical and correct became such a deal…except to preserve a narrative that is Swiss cheese. Jeb spokewoman Patty Levesque praised the vote..that is evidence enough for me that the shadow still looms large. And if not already aware, her husband is listed as Counsel to Florida House Speaker Andy Gardiner.

  4. While presenting logical and thoughtful solutions (HB1121 and SB1496), informed by other states’ efforts to remove Common Core and high stakes testing, to as many Florida legislators as possible, we were told nothing gets done at all unless you have the blessing of the leadership which would not be forthcoming because they don’t want to embarrass Jeb Bush or repudiate the mantra of common core and high stakes testing. Using lies and false data, they have managed to ruin the Florida’s education system and cripple our children as evidenced by the ACT results which show that we now rank 47th in the country.

    Jeb Bush has used this failed system as his personal piggy bank for his presidential race, selling out to the vendors such as Pearson PLC, Microsoft, GE and others who stand to gain enormous wealth from the High Stakes Testing plan to test only on computers. This enables them major access to the $1.3 TRILLION market through the activities of the JEB BUSH Foundation for Excellence in Education.

    Meetings of this foundation have been used to pay legislators and bureaucrats to travel and enjoy conferences, all expenses paid plus, where they will spend time with the vendors who will also become their benefactors. This is not a new plan for him as he used the same strategy with the Foundation for Florida’s Future to gather money all over the nation trading on his father’s name to become governor in the first place. See the article in St. Pete Times, http://www.sptimes.com/State/91398/Policy_group_proved_s.html

    John Legg, Erik Fresen, Kelly Stargel, Manny Diaz, Marlene O’Toole, Don Gaetz, Matt Gaetz, Gary Chartrand and many others directly benefit either by owning charter schools or by potential positions in a new Jeb Bush White House, or other direct monetary benefit.

    There is absolutely NO evidence, report, or theory which says computer testing is better for accuracy, ease of administration, fairness, data analysis or any logical reason. Using technology for learning is wonderful as an aid, but not necessary for testing. So why would we force our districts to spend over $2 billion on implementing this testing technology? None of this expense was ever presented to the public or they would certainly have “sticker shock.”

    This expense is just the beginning. There are replacement costs, maintenance costs, upgrade costs, staff costs, training costs, and facility costs to stack on top of that. Four Districts in California have sued that state for a $BILLION for the unfunded mandates. Certainly we can expect the same here. Then taxpayers get to pay on both sides of that lawsuit because legislators ignore their duty to the voters in exchange for personal gain.

    The bill that passed requires a limit of 5% of time (9 of 180 days) for state testing UNLESS they have parental permission for more. How is that time counted? Who counts it? Who sends out letters to parents for permission? Who tracks their responses? What if some parents say “no”? What about the time wasted while kids are playing “musical computers” to share testing resources?

    My head is spinning with the bureaucratic complexity and arbitrariness of that figure. Why not 3% or 13%? Why not just get out of the maniacal micromanagement of public schools? Teachers are certified and schools are accredited. Legislators are NOT.

    State tests AND state standards LIMIT education choices and results. Who achieves the best results? Home school tops the chart. Private and religious schools do better as well. WHY? They can choose standards and curriculum to match individual needs. Because they allow more instruction time and less testing, they have more enrichment courses, and they don’t have to teach to the test.

    I suggest that the Emperor, Jeb Bush, has no clothes. Here’s what one of his MAIN supporters, In committee January 7, 2015, Senator Gaetz said: http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/1715-senate-education-prek-12-committee/. At hour 1:15, after Commissioner Pam Stewart’s presentation.
    “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.

    Your children, your state, your taxes, your future just went down the drain. Are you going to let Jeb Bush and his sycophants get away with it?

    • Chris,
      You are HERO and a wealth of factual information… Thank you for all you do, You have never given up on our kids.

    • Excellent, Chris! I’ve been NPA for years and intend to stay that way. It’s a complete disgrace. Anyone who has information on Jeb Bush’s connections, such as Chris describes, please contact the Florida Bulldog.org

    • Wes says:

      Chris, great response. The one thing I’d like to point out is the 5% rule is state, district, and school testing. In the bill, it requires districts to report all their mandated testing on a standard calendar with DOE to include times and purposes for the tests. This includes progress monitoring as well. This is a HUGE improvement over what is occurring now!

      • Jupiter Mom says:

        Yea- can’t wait to see how much money it costs for someone to count every minute of testing- trying to define every moment, cutting “extra time” as accommodations, and renaming tests to be “learning tools”. Yea, great. Not so. Not a “huge” improvement by any definition.

      • Wes says:

        Well, as a school administrator, who is trying as hard as I can to minimize the effects of testing on my students and my teachers, I can tell you that 5% will make a HUGE difference at my school! Would I like more? Yes, definitely! But, the ball is moving towards our end zone and I, for one, am grateful that our voices are beginning to make a difference.

      • Wes, they just took more power from you by controlling EOCs. The 5% is a ruse and will not end up saving you much at all. You still have Common Core and high stakes testing. You still have unfunded mandates and testing on computers. You still have data mining. You have the FSA which has not been validated. There has been NO progress on helping our kids or our state from the downward decline in actual learning. How is this helping? You above all, need to stand for the kids. Speak OUT! Please read this article for the larger implications: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/common-core-goes-global

      • Wes says:

        I AM speaking out! I have been speaking out all year, working hand in hand with Senator Hays to make real change happen! Why? For my students and teachers. And I will continue speaking out even while other administrators are afraid to because of fear of losing their jobs. This process of change will take time. And it does OUR side (and I do believe we are on the same side!) no good to criticize each other!
        As for the EOC comment, I believe you are mistaken. What happens with this bill is it removes the mandate of district EOC’s for all students in every course. This saves us tremendous time and money, not to mention not having 5 and 6 year olds take 6 tests the last two weeks of school, instead of enjoying all the wonderful end of the year activities teachers usually plan. Teachers are more than capable, not to mention properly trained, to create tests to check for understanding. We don’t need EOC’s. The only purpose for these EOC’s is to create an invalid score for the teachers VAM score!
        We did succeed in getting an outside entity to look at the reliability and validity of the FSA in this bill. And I will tell you that 2 weeks ago that was not an option. Am I happy with all the language in that part of the bill, but I am happy that we are further along than we were 2 weeks ago!

  5. How to make a Strong Stand and get our message across : Change your party affiliation to NP, Drop Rep & Dem, When it hit’s their pocket, They’ll think twice…
    Each party is allocated funds based on Voter Registration . This is why they beat your door down trying to get you to register or change parties. As a Former Elected Official , I know how to play their game and hit them in the pocket. You can change back before the Primary and change again after.. Also….. The number of Registered Voters, is taking into consideration for salary. IE : Nancy Graham makes exactly the same amount of dollars as Reg. Voters in Lee County

    Do it TODAY, Before it goes to the House vote. Tell them it’s filled out and dated today and IF the house votes for it, You’re done ! Send it to all of them and DO NOT tell them what party you are now OR WHAT COUNTY YOU LIVE IN.

    Your vote on Common Core and High Stake Testing
    Friday, April 3, 2015 10:13 AM

    “Marian Scirrotto”
    abruzzo.joseph.web@flsenate.gov altman.thad.web@flsenate.gov bean.aaron.web@flsenate.gov benacquisto.lizbeth.web@flsenate.gov bradley.rob.web@flsenate.gov brandes.jeff.web@flsenate.gov braynon.oscar.web@flsenate.gov bullard.dwight.web@flsenate.gov clemens.jeff.web@flsenate.gov dean.charles.web@flsenate.gov portilla.miguel.web@flsenate.gov evers.greg.web@flsenate.gov flores.anitere.web@flsenate.gov gaetz.don.web@flsenate.gov galvano.bill.web@flsenate.gov garcia.rene.web@flsenate.gov gardiner.andy.web@flsenate.gov gibson.audrey.web@flsenate.gov grimsley.denise.web@flsenate.gov hays.alan.web@flsenate.gov hukill.dorothy.web@flsenate.gov joyner.arthenia.web@flsenate.gov latvala.jack.web@flsenate.gov lee.tom.web@flsenate.gov legg.john.web@flsenate.gov margolis.gwen.web@flsenate.gov montford.bill.web@flsenate.gov negron.joe.web@flsenate.gov richter.garrett.web@flsenate.gov ring.jeremy.web@flsenate.gov sachs.maria.web@flsenate.gov simmons.david.web@flsenate.gov simpson.wilton.web@flsenate.gov smith.chris.web@flsenate.gov sobel.eleanor.web@flsenate.gov soto.darren.web@flsenate.gov stargel.kelli.web@flsenate.gov thompson.geraldine.web@flsenate.govHide

    Apparently, The will of people is held in very little regard. Therefore, I am changing my party affiliation, dated and effective TODAY.
    Additionally, I will never donate another dime or physically support any of you come Election season. As for my children’s education, I will look for alternative options.
    I will work hard to encourage others to follow suit.

    Marian B. Scirrotto
    Founder : And Justice 4 all
    “Committed to Change”

    “If you can read this, thank a teacher-and, since it’s in English, thank a soldier !!”

    ” His Dream is Our Mission ”
    In Honor of SSGT. Craig T. Fuller


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  8. Dianemarie says:

    I know I am a little late, but I just came across this as I was trying to clean out my e-mails.

    Chris: I find it humerous when I tried to tell you over 2 years ago that Common Core was nothing but the UN/UNESCO Education for all and you told me you couldn’t be worried about the UN, you were focusing on the CC – of which your statement made no sense to me then or now because it is one in the same. David Coleman did not write the CCSS – Maine has been using it by that name since 1989 and Bosnia by that name since 1999. You ar NOT going to get rid of the CCSS unless you get rid of all the legislators who are sleeping with Jeb Bush – you know him – the one who just said Common Core is “poisonious”.

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