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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The other half of the story in Florida’s education scheme

When talking about the distress they knew the release of VAM scores (dubious test metrics) would have on teachers, the commissioner of education Pam Stewart and the chair of the state board of education Gary Chartrand both mentioned that VAM scores only show half the story. First what chutzpah on their part, these two helped manufacture the crisis by picking a measurement which is known to be wildly inaccurate and then used it in many cases to evaluate teachers on students they never taught or in some instances never even met.  Welcome to Florida.

They are right though in Florida you never get the entire picture.

Let’s look at the FCAT which has been used to grade our schools. Some people point to the low scores at schools and say look at them they are failing.  They don’t acknowledge all the teachers working in nearly impossible situations and they ignore poverty calling it an excuse; they want you to ignore all the hard work and dedication, all the love and sacrifice and instead look at one day to sum up a school.  They want you just to see the FCAT scores and make your entire judgment based upon them.  Talk about only getting part of the picture.

Then they use the FCAT scores to sell their school choice narrative, though if you have been paying attention you know school choice is just a gentler way of saying privatization. The swear charters and vouchers will elevate education while at the same time they want you to ignore the fact charter have basically been a disaster here in Florida, a third of all that have opened have failed, and that despite being able to pick who they take and keep private schools that take vouchers aren’t doing a better than their public school counterparts.  They don’t want you to have the entire picture about the school choice movement because if you did you would be outraged by the waste and subterfuge that has and is occurring.     

I suspect Chartrand and Stewart aren’t even all that concerned about the consternation they have inflicted on teachers already a pretty downtrodden group in Florida. This is just them trying to have their cake and eat it too. They can say they stood up for teachers,  from a system they helped create, but at the same time they are counting on people to take just half the story and run with it, after all that already worked with the FCAT and the school choice movement.   

It is time we got the entire story; unfortunately we won’t get it from either Stewart or Chartrand.

Chris Guerrieri, 
School teacher, 

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