You may have heard that former Governor Jeb Bush regularly parades the “Florida miracle,” perhaps preparing for a 2016 run at the presidency. The formula, we hear, is testing and accountability, grading schools, charters and vouchers, and of course, online courses and schools.
This Florida teacher wrote a comment and gives a different view from the trenches:
I will go out on a limb here and argue that there IS no “Florida miracle.” I taught in a Miami-Dade high school for 6 years and I watched our school grade go from a C to a D back to a C, stay a C, and then up to a B…I think it was also an F at some point in there. During that time, did I see any change in the “quality” of student? Nope. Did I see any change in the quality of the teachers? Nope. Did I see any change in the quality of the coursework? YES. It went DOWN year after year, as more and more emphasis was placed on testing, and less and less on everything else. As end-of-course exams were introduced, the quality went down still further, as classes were disrupted even more for testing and test prep. And while the class size amendment was the one and ONLY good thing left in FL education, that too has pretty much gone out the window, at least in high school, as “core classes” were redefined to mean “FCAT classes.” My last year teaching (last year) I had up to 38 students in my French classes. The quality of my classes definitely went down, though not because I was lazy or incompetent or any of the other things teachers are called all the time…but simply because to keep a class of 38 from dissolving into chaos, you have to have a pretty teacher-centered class going on all the time. That is not ideal for a language class, but then again, neither is having a class of almost 40 kids all doing their own thing (which, as any teacher knows, means each one playing with a phone or worse).
There is no Florida miracle. Education has only gotten worse over the past few years, no matter how schools, districts and the state itself game the system. And, contrary to what the media will tell you, it is NOT teachers’ fault, unions’ fault, and I won’t even blame it on the kids or their parents this time. It is the fault of education “reform” led by Jeb Bush et al.