The failure that is rarely talked about, however, is John Ellis Bush's disastrous education policies that stemmed from his obsession over testing.
Out of the 180-day academic year, Miami-Dade County schools will administer standardized tests on EVERY DAY BUT EIGHT! This includes 18 exams required exclusively by Florida, five by the district, two federal, and dozens of assessments covering placement to state guidelines.
None of these include the standard tests that teachers are supposed to give.
Students, parents, reading teachers, principals, business and professional organizations, testing experts, consultants, and concerned citizens are so outraged that even the GOP, which at first strongly supported Jeb's million test march, now admits it was wrong. It has gotten so bad that severely disabled children are forced to take the test, even a child who is blind and missing most of his brain!
For crying out loud, even kids without disabilities who are doing well in school are also failing these state assessments. An Orange County school board member who holds several advanced degrees recently took one and barely passed. As someone who works in the field of learning, I know that tests need to go through reliability, validity and validation. Clearly, none of this is taking place. The problem is obviously the test, not the kids.
All of this testing madness, which has spread like a cancer nationwide, came about because of JEB's ideological obsession along with typical Bush family ignorance. The outrage finally led to some sort of relief--not fixing the tests themselves but at least reducing the number of tests taken. The bill would scrap a law requiring school districts to come up with end-of-course tests in classes where the state doesn't administer such exams; cap at 5 percent the share of students' time that can be spent on testing; and reduce from 50 percent to a third the portion of a teacher's evaluation tied to student performance.
But the bill no longer includes language that would have allowed students who do well on the SAT, ACT or tests in high-level classes like Advanced Placement courses to skip the corresponding statewide standardized tests. The reason? Jeb Bush's ironically named Foundation for Florida's Future. These dead-enders oppose any and all changes to the tests. Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, withdrew that amendment after a blistering speech aimed at Jeb Bush's foundation. Others GOP members had plenty to say:
"Obviously, the testing has gotten out of control. ... I want to have a non-subjective measure, so we can know exactly how our kids are doing," Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland.What can make this worse? The analysis also says that all four testing companies have donated to the JEB's Foundation for Excellence in Education. The foundation is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC.
"I think we've lost our way and we need to find it again," said Sen. Don Gaetz of Niceville, another former Senate president who has backed education reform.
Gaetz, who chairs the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee, vowed to spend his final year in the Senate on a mission "to bring some order out of chaos."
Sen. Alan Hays, a conservative Republican from Umatilla, said lawmakers had the best intentions but went too far.
"It is sad that today, many of our teachers and even administrators are simply waiting to earn their retirement checks because our well-intentioned but misguided policies have taken the joy out of teaching," Hays said.
Two days ago, against all odds, the GOP House approved the bill.
Teachers are justifiably upset that they can't get more of a fix. But this is Florida, folks. If you want change, try showing up at the polls, no matter how hard they make it.
Unfortunately, JEB is understandably not happy with this bill since one of his "selling points" is that he was the "education governor", and he is whispering in Rick's ear.
Rick Scott, for his part, has not indicated whether he would sign it. He has ZERO incentive to do the right thing but every incentive to do the wrong thing. The only possible reason he would sign it is if he cared even remotely about the welfare of Floridian children.