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Tony Bennett off to Bad Start in Florida

I just read the mawkish interview Rick Hess did with new Florida Education Leader Tony Bennett. Bereft of any serious questions and wanting to curry favor- I think Hess has forfeited his right to do any more work at Education Week. More problematic were the Tony Bennett responses. Bennett at least admitted he is a puppet of the Governor when he revealed Rick Scott told him two issues he wanted promoted (common core/SB736).  This should scare all citizens.

Bennett- a good friend of Jeb Bush- wants to push more merit pay and evaluating teachers by test scores. He is a big fan of diverting funds to testing and privatization. Bennett is not capable of much original thinking. He will do anything the Governor wants. He is pushing the Jeb Bush agenda that brought the state one of the lowest graduation rates in the nation. Florida high schools test around 80 days a year with more tests coming.

The biggest problem with Bennett is that he assumes there is great support for common core. I can tell you for a fact, any support for common core is based on the Florida Department of Education (sic) misleading the public and teachers on what it is and what it will do. The state has NEVER informed anyone about the massive common core testing that is on the way. There is more testing and at more grade levels. This is in addition to more “End of Course Testing.” Remember for each End of Course Exam there are diagnostics. Common core involves repeated testing that is formative, summative and interim.

Rick Scott and the DOE have also failed to tell the public and educators about the yearly costs of common core. Schools are being turned into computer labs. Millions (yearly) are going to consultants, materials and  test companies.

Florida spent millions on the” Sunshine State Standards.” We were told they were needed to help students with rigor and relevance.  A few years later, the state spent millions more on new standards called “The Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.”  We were told these world-class standards would help all kids compete in the world. With each new set of standards, millions were spent on testing, consultants and materials. This all despite the fact that the World Economic Forum consistently ranks the US high in global competitiveness.

Governor Scott recently said something that few noticed. It was a political remark to mislead people. Scott said that we need common core to measure our students against the nation and the world. This remark went unchallenged by a compliant media.

Here is a free education for the Governor…

1. NAEP testing measures us against the nation

2. TIMMS, PIRLS, PISA and more measure us against the world.

We already have the testing Mr. Scott- plenty.

Rick Scott and the DOE also help feed the educational testing complex by pushing the degrading idea that a test (not HSGPA) is the best indicator of college ready. This diminishes the body of work done by teacher and students. Here, they ignore (again) massive empirical evidence.

In Florida, students are allowed to attend BYU-  a little name kids give to a program that allows them to pay about $300 to earn a half credit. It take two or three weeks, some worksheets – and nobody ever fails. I have actually seen a BYU manual. Who gets this money? What private providers are involved? DOE refuses to tell us.

Florida is also a leader in the virtual education scam. I just spoke to a student who made up 4 credits in 9 weeks. The student said they liked the virtual classes because if they failed a test- “they’ give you the answers and even let you use your phone to look things up on a test.

It appears Bennett will do the bidding of Rick Scott just as the DOE does the bidding of Jeb Bush. They want more charters- despite this landmark study in Florida.  It is going to get worse here in Florida.

I forgot to mention that Florida is a leader in child poverty. As Bennett, Scott, DOE, and the legislature continue to divert money away from kids- few realize what is happening.  The media refuses to do anything but passing articles on these issues. Apparently they value access over the truth.

Now we face the sham of common core. In the end it will cost billions to feed all of the common core cottage industries. There will be more testing than ever in a state already crushed by testing. The larger question is why we are obsessed by this testing in the first place. There is no connection to testing and standards to economic prowess in the US.

Sonny and Cher were right, the beat goes on….

UNLESS we get educated and OPPOSE the unethical agenda I have just written about.


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