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Pam Stewart should stop bullying and start listening.

Many parents across the state of Florida are deciding to opt their children out of the high stakes tests that have sucked so much oxygen out of education for teachers and students alike.  Instead of respecting a family’s choice to opt out, Pam Stewart has threatened them. So much for school choice here in Florida.

She has said that students that refuse to take the tests may be forced to take remedial classes the following year. This despite the fact there are a variety of methods readily available to professionals and found throughout every school and district that are arguably better to determine their placement than the high stakes tests du jour. Stewart has basically said, the only thing that matters is the test.

Earlier Pam Stewart also threatened teacher’s certificates with sanctions if they helped children opt out. I would argue that the teacher code of ethics demands teachers do so. Either way is this the school system we want? One that threatens families and teachers if they don’t do what a few at the top want them to do, even if it goes against their better judgment and principals?  

The school board association, the parent teachers association and the superintendent association have all come out against the punitive high stakes way we do testing in Florida. Shouldn’t their voices count for something? It’s time we told education commissioner Pam Stewart to stop bullying and to start listening.

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