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Toni Jennings- Jeb’s helper

I was sad to see former Lieutenant Governor (under Jeb Bush) Toni Jennings mislead on education in an attempt to justify diverting billions more to testing and standards while Florida is now a leader in child poverty. This is immoral and criminal. She published her views in the Orlando Sentinel. Let me examine her claims closely. You will find she is nothing but a shill for one of the Jeb Bush Foundations- where she is on the Board.

Toni says: “Last year, an analysis by ProPublica singled out Florida for providing low-income, minority students with the same access to academically rigorous classes as affluent students.”

FACTS: The problem with this is that the reason there is “more” access is that kids are forced to be in these classes to help school grades. Schools get points when kids enroll in AP classes.  It is all about school grades. They have always had access. AP is not a fit for all students.

Toni says: “We must keep raising the bar, because we have far to go before all high-school graduates are ready for post-secondary education. Preparing them for anything less in the 21st-century economy is condemning them to menial jobs and unemployment.”

FACTS: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that almost 70% of jobs through the end of the decade will not require a college education. “Raising the bar” is a great dog whistle for billions more spent on testing. “Raising the bar” keeps us in a false crisis mode.  Jennings is unaware of the massive research showing “testing” does not equal college ready. HSGPA is the best indicator. Please see my other articles for more on this matter. Basing college ready on test scores is simply anti-evidence.

Toni says:  “Florida will be replacing the FCAT with better, more comprehensive assessments.”

FACTS: The “C” in FCAT stands for “comprehensive.”  What Toni means is MORE testing than ever seen before on the planet. High schools already test 60-70 days a year.

Toni says:  “Florida will be replacing the FCAT with better, more comprehensive assessments. This is part of the transition to Common Core State Standards in 2014-15. They are benchmarked against the most rigorous international standards because our students are lagging their peers in other countries.

FACTS: We do not have a standards problem.  When you compare our non-poverty students to the rest of the world we are at the top. When you compare our low poverty students to the rest of the world we are near the top. Our massive child poverty brings us down to the middle overall- where we have always been. Our massive child poverty is at 25% and ranks at the top of the world. Only Romania has higher levels (UNICEF REPORT). So Toni, stop misleading about our kids lagging peers.

*How will common core help our kids who can’t get access to books, health care, or even housing? Shame on you Toni. Common core is a billion dollar scam that sends billions more to testing companies and consultants. Oh, and don’t forget the infrastructure- computers.

Toni says: “Like the other changes, these will be somewhat disruptive. But they also are necessary to ensure our children’s place in an increasingly competitive global market.”

FACTS: Common core has ZERO to do with the global market. The US is in the top ten in global competitiveness. In fact, as the US has spent more on testing and privatization- we have slipped from 2nd to 7th in the last decade. (World Economic Forum)

Toni says: “The biggest mistake we make in education is underestimating the ability of all children to learn.”

FACTS:  Starting with her administration and going on today- Jennings is part of the soft bigotry of low expectations. ESE students do NOT have to pass any state tests to graduate. They get waivers. Toni underestimates our kids.

Toni says: “Numerous reports have documented the remarkable improvements in Florida education.”

FACTS:

1.SCHOTT REPORT 2012-  Florida graduation rates for black males is below those of Mississippi and Georgia.

2. In 8th grade reading- NAEP shows that the scale scores for students with disabilities have gone DOWN. The National Public School average has gone UP. (2009-2011)

3. In 4th grade reading the NAEP scale scores in Florida are down DOUBLE the National Public School average. (2009-2011)

4. In 4th grade reading the gap between low-income students and other students is UP in Florida since 2005. The National Public School gap is the same as it was in 2005. The 8th grade gap is the same as it was in 2007. (NAEP)

5. The gap between low-income and other students in FL in 8th grade math is UP since 2007. (NAEP)

6. The gap between black and white students in 4th grade reading has increased since 2005 while the National Public School average has dropped. The gap is the same now as it was in 2009 for 8th graders.

(I could go on for days. Check out the NEPC reports that debunk the Florida Miracle- like I do here.)

Toni Jennings is part of the “spend billions on testing” crowd that needs to be OUT of education totally. She – like her boss Jeb- advocates billions more on testing and standards. As I have shown you- there is no standards problem.  Diverting billions to testing and standards while we have 25% child poverty is a crime. It is immoral and feckless.

One more thing about Toni is that she always wants to raise the bar. She wants to keep the illusion of a crisis going. Did you know that when too many schools in Florida get  “A’s” that the Board of Education can simply “raise the bar?” No matter what we do, they will always demonize us to keep feeding Pearson and the rest of the Educational Testing Complex- BILLIONS of dollars and the lives of more generations.

Jennings also mentioned choice. Of course she will never give all schools the freedoms that charters have. There is no need for charters if you let all schools have the same rules. Many want to escape to private schools because there is no harmful, massive testing.

Shame on you Toni Jennings. Please leave now. You have no idea what you are talking about.

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