A reader reflects on the rapid advance of privatization in Florida, which has been abetted by the hard demands of the state’s high-stakes testing regime:
Having been in education in FL for over 30 years, it is gut wrenching to me to watch what is going on. Jeb Bush and his band of merry men (and women) have taken over public education in FL. Some of the best and most innovative public educators I have known are now working for him or one of his groups. I am beginning to think folks in FL have decided the privatization of public education in FL is inevitable, and our best shot at helping kids is to get involved now in that transition to make sure there will be some folks in those private enterprises that actually care for kids. The climate and culture in the public schools has become toxic to people who believe in the duty of the state to provide a free quality education to our kids (that’s actually in the FL Constitution).
I observed in a summer school class today for students who didn’t pass the third grade FCAT. Their only shot at fourth grade is to pass a similar test this summer. The teachers in those classes are some of the best in our county. And most of the summer has been spent in quality reading instruction. But the final two to three weeks is totally focused on test prep and testing, teaching ‘strategies’ to use to pass the test. “Remember, next Wednesday, use all these strategies so you can pass the big test.” You can see the stress in the faces of these eight year old children. They get one more chance to bubble in the right answers, or they get to spend another year in third grade.
What are we doing? Have we all lost our minds?