The real debate centered around an amendment proposed by Rep. Mia Jones.
Jones, D-Jacksonville, proposed holding off on school grades during the transition to new standards and assessments -- something superintendents, school board members and parent groups have long been asking for.
Jones noted that students had trouble accessing Florida's new online exams last week -- the result of both software problems and cyber attacks -- and argued it would be unfair to hold students responsible for the results.
"Today, I ask you not to put a scarlet letter on our young people," she said.
Several members of the public spoke in support of her recommendation.
Duval County School Board member Becki Couch pointed out that when the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests were given for the first time in 1998, the results were used only as a baseline and not for high-stakes decisions.
"School grades would be meaningless this year because there would not be a baseline [and] there would not have been a uniform testing environment that was provided for the students," Couch said.
First thank you Mia Jones for bringing some sense to a generally senseless group and then Becki Couch nails it. School grades without a baseline are meaningless not that they do more than point out zip codes anyways. Couch even has precedent to back up her argument.
Couch can be so maddening at times because she has asked difficult but data driven questions that have received terrible answers from the administration and time and time again instead of continuing to fight she has folded and gone along.
Like she knows using these new tests without a baseline is a bad plan, she has to know putting hobbyists (Teach for America) in our neediest schools where they will be replaced by new ones in two years rather than finding professional teachers is a terrible plan.
She has to know that playing lip service to discipline and coddling children, and I am not saying to be cruel but I am saying for a consequence to be meaningful it has to be meaningful and massaging numbers so it appears discipline is better than it is, is a terrible plan.
She has to know that extending the super's contract nine months before we have to and with a lot of important data still to be revealed is a terrible plan and she has to know outsourcing our kids futures to for profit companies (charter schools) who care more about the bottom line than anything else is a terrible plan, but these are some of the terrible plans she has routinely gone along with.
Last year with TFA and this year with the supers contract extension, both things I spoke out against you could see she had real reservations, doubts, but with both she eventually threw in the towel and just went along.
Mrs. Couch has a little over three years left, I wonder if she wants to be remembered as a school board member who just went along or one who made a difference, the one who said we're going to do things the right way, even if it is a little harder, takes a little longer and may not be as popular as other ways.
Doing what is right is not always easy or popular but at the end of the day it is still right.
So what did the legislature do with Mia Jones amendment? They ignored it of course but then again they have never been very interested in doing things the right way.