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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why does the state of Florida hate the Rediske family?

In a state with a lot of sad and crazy this may take the cake.

Ethan Rediske was a very sick profoundly disabled little boy that the state of Florida insisted on testing even when he was on his deathbed.

After his death his mother questioned the practice of testing the severely profound. She didn’t say progress shouldn’t be monitored, she didn’t say lets throw students like her son in a room and turn on the TV. No she just thought the tool we were using was inappropriate a sentiment shared by most special education teachers and parents, who up until the Rediske family didn’t know they were allowed to question.

Pam Stewart our commissioner of education was outraged that anybody dare question Florida’s accountability system, let alone the parent of a now deceased profoundly disabled child and she penned a letter that she sent to every teacher in the state and where she didn’t do it by name, the object of her outrage the Rediske family was easy to discern. 

However the genie was out of the bottle and more and more people began to question the practice including parents who up till now thought silence was their only option.

A bill started to move through the Florida legislature, the Ethan Rediske bill that would have made it easier for the parents of profoundly disabled children to opt out of the test. It seemed like a slam-dunk until it was mysterious pulled.
It resurfaced a few days later as part of an unpopular student accountability bill proposed by Jennifer Adkins of Fernandina beach. Mrs. Adkins would never be considered a friend of public education and has a reputation with people that follow these types of things of stretching the truth and exaggerating facts.

The Ethan Rediske part of the bill, now known as page 38, put a little bit of perfume on the pig as it is the only palatable part of Adkins entire bill and sadly also twisted the knife in the back of the Rediske family just a little bit more.

From Curmuducation: The people who have been vocally supporting this crusade now find themselves having to oppose a bill that would have brought Rediske's dream to fruition, while the very people who blocked the advance of Ethan's Law (like Rep. Adkins) try to use the story of this grieving parent to further their own agenda. I know politics are politics, but exactly how low do you have to stoop in order to make opportunistic use of the death of an 11-year-old boy? 

The bill involves, among other things, a trade-off of a three year delay for a one-year pause. Florida parents don't believe one year is sufficient to wait on implementing full on "accountability measures" (the usual crap soup of testing etc), and that aspect has been a sticking point. The bill sticks with the grading of schools as well, which people are unhappy about in FL. And it attempts to create a "smooth transition" for Florida education.

In this video, you can find Rep. Adkins
 making her impassioned plea (at the 1:36:00 mark). She manages to use Ethan Rediske as a political prop without even naming him or the bill that she has co-opted, and she invokes her own motherhood and speaks with oh-so-much-deep feelings. She has allllll the feelings. Schools need to be graded so that schools feel urgency to do a good job (because schools never work well unless they're threatened). But let's not talk about that. Let's remind you all how much you want to do something rational and right for special needs students.

In a state with a lot of sad and crazy this may have taken the cake as a grieving family was first the target of scorn and ridicule from the commissioner of education and then used as a tool to further the political agenda of in my opinion a pretty loathsome human being.

Sadly this is just what we call Thursday here in Flori-DUH! 

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