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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Have Jeb Bush's reforms led to a 48th place in education?

From Scathing Purple Musings

by Bob Sykes

Florida’s education system has been test-based for as long as any state’s. So much so that parents have begun to accept that fact that it’s the only thing that matters. And who can blame them when they become incredulous over the results?

Writes parent and widely read columnist, Wendy Victora in the Northwest Florida Daily News:

When I told my family I was moving to Florida 15 years ago, my brother questioned why anyone would want to move to here.

The father of two young girls at the time, my brother pointed out the reputation of Florida’s education system as well as the heat and humidity that are a fact of life here.

I ignored him and his opinions. And I still believe that my children are getting a good education in local schools.

But each year I’m embarrassed and perplexed to hear that Florida scores near the bottom of our nation on standardized tests like the ACT. This year, we’re No. 48.

Ruh-ro, Raggie.
Victora’s not alone in recognizing such numbers. Jeb Bush’s one-time commissioner of education who’s now chief of staff for the current one touched on the troubling data this week. John Winn said such data at one Miami high school was “a disconnect and it sends the wrong impression.”

These revelations couldn’t be more damning of the test-dominated system of education that former governor Bush has imposed on the state. Neither news- no data – can be spun in a way that sways Florida’s families. FCAT has been around since the beginning of Bush’s governorship in 1998 and families are already accustomed to it being the only thing that matters. Even the most disinterested Floridian will associate poor scores among graduates to the state’s devotion to FCAT.

Victora ”still believe(s) that my children are getting a good education in local schools, “ and finishes her column with this:

I don’t understand the problem so can’t begin to fathom how Florida can fix it.

Do we just expect too little of our students from their earliest years?

Do we focus too much on teaching to the FCAT and not enough on preparing students for these national standardized tests?

Are our schools so underfunded that teachers can’t do their job?

Or are all of those just excuses, too?

Theres’ a clear link between John Winn’s admission and Wendy Victora’s exasperation. As Winn accepted as fact that a “disconnect” exists in Florida’s test-based school grade system, he’s accepting ownership of results. Parents like Victora are keenly aware that if high school graduates aren’t performing well and it sheds an extremely skeptical light on Florida’s test-based system.

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