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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The problem with Charles Van Zant isn’t what he said; it is he is pretty typical for Florida’s republican legislators.

Not just the state of Florida but the nation has reacted with outrage over Charles Van Zant’s comments that the American Institute of Research (AIR) the group administering Common Core in Florida is trying to turn children gay. What I don’t understand is why this is outrageous considering all the other things the Republicans in our legislature have said and done.

They voted for cheap and comprehensive health benefits for them while denying the Medicare expansion for hundreds of thousands of poor Floridians who desperately need it.  They balanced Florida’s books on the back of its teachers and public service workers when they took three percent of their pay. This money did not go to the pension fund but instead to the general fund, thank a teacher for the surplus.  They did this while at the same time giving a tax break to people who bought expensive yachts.

Routinely Florida legislators that work for, own or who have family members that own vote for charter school legislation that will benefit them and they have so twisted what amounts to ethics here in Florida that this causes few to bat an eye. Then they say they are for local control but the state board of education, which ironically doesn’t have a true educator on it routinely overrides duly elected school boards and rubber stamps charter schools.  

With vouchers the legislature literally had to twist themselves into knots ignoring their stances on STEM, accountability and teacher evaluations to vote for an expansion this year. Then they forced merit pay on teachers despite the fact study after study says it doesn’t work and testing experts say tying teachers pay to a high stakes test is foolhardy.  They routinely thumb their nose at educators who they have practically reduced to second class citizens.

There are however plenty of reasons not to like AIR.  They brought the disastrous VAM evaluation method to Florida and how after that they got a second chance to do anything  is beyond me. Then they are charging the state of Florida five million dollar to field test questions in Utah, the Florida of the mid-west, both quickly come to mind. Pam Stewart who approved AIR is the state’s 6th  commissioner of education under Scott if we count her two intern stints.

Then there are plenty of reasons to dislike Common Core too. It doubles down on high stakes testing which has sucked the joy of learning and teaching out of education for many students and teachers alike. It’s untested and it doesn’t address the real problem in education, poverty.  What the republicans in Tallahassee haven’t told you as they have been running around saying the sky is falling on education, is that if we factor out poverty then our scores zoom to the top and that was before common core.

What do you think is a better idea, to give our struggling schools extra resources or to blow up the entire system? Rick Scott and most of the republican dominated legislature think it is the latter. Then finally it siphons millions and millions out of our classrooms where it is really needed, giving it to testing companies instead.

So yes we should be outraged by Van Zant but the republicans in the Florida legislature have given us many other opportunities to be outraged too.

1 comment:

  1. According to wikipedia AIR-American Institute of Research is a nonprofit, nonpartisan behavioral and social science research organization. Their founder, John Flanagan, a pioneer in aviation psychology is responsible for Project Talent, a nationwide survey of 444,000 high school students from 1960-2010. The results showed that regardless of academic ability, parental involvement and socioeconomic status were the strongest predictors of students' success.