Florida FCAT results remain flat. Here is how we change that.
That’s the headline but it’s not the only thing that FCAT results tell you. FCAT results also tell you a child’s zip code. The schools that had the highest percentage of children doing poorly are invariably on the poorer side of town. I hope the irony that 20 percent of our third graders scored a one on the FCAT and 20 percent of our students live in poverty is not lost on anyone.
Our elected leaders in Tallahassee and Jeb Bush would have you believe that common core and school choice will fix those things. I ask you how an experimental curriculum is going to put food in a hungry child’s belly, make them feel safe as they walk home or get up to now absent parents involved? Then not only are we 15 years into the school choice movement here in Florida but if you look into the numbers the charter schools in the poorer neighborhoods often performed worse than their public school counterparts. The school choice movement unfortunately has made it impossible to know how private schools that take vouchers and are exempt from accountability are doing.
The good news is there are solutions, the bad news for our leaders in Tallahassee is they don’t involve sending hundreds of millions to testing companies and charter school operators looking to make a buck or continuing to blame, demonize and marginalize teachers. Which up till now have been their only two solutions.
If we really want to turn this around then the students in our poorer neighborhoods need to be in smaller classes so they can get individual attention, the one reform with evidence that says it works. They need wrap around services because quite often students act up or under performs has nothing to do with school. Then we need a longer school year because often our poorer kids need more time to learn and less time in between so they don’t lose what they learned and finally after the foundation is set we need more curriculum options, trades, skills, and the arts that play to kids strengths and keep them interested in school. If we do those things that will cost money, money that won’t go to campaign contributors then we can turn this around.
Chris GuerrieriSchool Teacher