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Jeb Bush, His Memory Problems and the New Shibboleth

In a recent interview Jeb Bush was dumbfounded when told about Florida and the test prep mentality that shuts down schools for up to 70 days each year. Apparently Mr. Bush is unaware that the average high school will have to give some 45 different tests this year and it will take about 70 days to complete. Maybe he is unaware that some elementary schools have to give as many as 70 different tests.

These are not tests that teachers get to decide on. They are forced upon schools by the state and sometimes school districts. Instead of letting experts decide how and when to use tests- these experts we once called teachers- are now proctors for much of the year.

Still I wonder how Jeb Bush could fail to realize that his foundation controls education policy in the state. Is he an absent CEO?  The Jeb Bush agenda and RTTT requires the use of test scores to evaluate teachers and schools. Teachers have lost due process rights and schools are punished with more tests if they get a low grade. Yes, you read that correctly. Those kids who need the most instructional time- are given the least. They are forced to test more and even have state monitors controlling their curriculum. Has Jeb Bush forgotten that under the evaluation and merit pay system he supports- teachers can be fired for poor student scores? I am wondering if Bush will call for the firing of Doctors when- despite their best efforts- patients do not take their medication. And about that merit pay law Jeb and his friends pushed through- they allocated a total of ZERO dollars for it. Like everything else about Bush, it is smoke and mirrors.

Jeb Bush also appears to confuse the assessment systems in Florida. He lauded the results of private voucher student test scores yet he forgot that they take totally different assessments from public school students. Any comparison is dishonest at best. The Jeb Bush foundation is led by an ersatz teacher named Patty Levesque. You might remember her as the one who signed an online trigger petition twice.  She also got herself named to a DOE committee on digital learning- listed as a parent. Nobody saw the conflict of interest. Please read what Lee Fang wrote to see why and how Levesque influences policy. I think there should be a full investigation of the relationship between DOE, the legislature, and the Bush Foundation.  Levesque, like Bush, is a defender of the status quo. They want to keep diverting billions to testing and to vouchers. They also want to use phony school grades to keep the state in a perpetual manufactured crisis. If too many schools do too well the Board of Education can actually change the rules to make it harder.

Florida is now trying to convince people that common core is the next best thing. There is no standards problem in Florida- we have them. There is no crisis and schools are not broken. The only crisis is 25% child poverty.  Recently a group called ACHIEVE warned Rick Scott and education leaders NOT to emphasize all of the testing coming with common core. It really is NCLB on steroids. They are trying to slip common core by us as they did the RTTT waiver which forced the state to use student test scores to evaluate teachers. In Florida- poverty is not allowed to be taken into consideration for the VAM. Maybe this is because Florida is now a leader in child poverty and homelessness.

The new hot phrase of the “reformers” is “College and Career Ready.” The state is basing this on test scores! Numerous studies show that HSGPA is a better indicator of college readiness but there is no money to be made there!   How will Pearson pay the light bill if we don’t give them a raise? With good reason, almost one-thousand colleges have stopped using the SAT/ACT to admit most students. “College and Career” ready is the shibboleth of the reformers. This is what they are using to justify ending art, music, and PE. They are testing kids in K and Pre-K. Some Florida schools are forced to offer a longer day- more skill-drill-kill. The state actually requires students to take an online “pre-exam” for each Exam they will take. Yet  more instructional time lost. The state requires several diagnostic tests and teachers have no say. Remember there is no tenure so if you speak up you can be dispatched quickly.

And Jeb Bush is flummoxed over all this test prep talk….

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