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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Incoming House Speaker Steve Crisafulli cherry picks the Constitution

Incoming speaker Steve Crisafulli recently penned an op-ed in Florida today extolling the virtues of standardized testing and then doubled down saying in the Tampa Times: According to the Florida Constitution, the state has the paramount duty to provide a high quality public school system. Without an accountability system for all public school students, the state cannot ensure that children attending our public schools have the opportunity to receive a high quality education."

Maybe without an accountability system but who says it has to be the one we have now that is so based on high stakes tests which many experts say do more harm than good and VAM scores which the DOE admits are wrong more than a third of the time and don't factor in poverty.

But what really gets me is he paraphrased the Florida Constitution because it says a lot more.

The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require.

Let's look at two words, paramount and uniform. Florida is currently ranked 38th in per pupil spending according to the Florida Tax watch.  Couple that with superintendents and school boards throughout the state lamenting a lack of resources and our education system hardly seems paramount.

Now uniform. Florida sends hundreds of millions of dollars to charter schools, which as a group under perform when compared to public schools, over 260 of which have taken public money and failed leaving numerous communities in a lurch and many of which are for profit and voucher schools which are exempt from the accountability system that Crisafulli joyfully advocates for. Hardly seems uniform does it.

Notice it nowhere say schools and teachers have to be graded on a system that most experts and people in the education world believe is a disaster.  

Ignoring and misrepresenting the Florida Constitution seems like a poor start to his speaker ship and it should concern us all no matter where in the state we live.

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