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Another Media Softball for Tony Bennett in Florida

I guess I cannot blame the media for being incapable of asking hard questions backed with facts when it comes to education. The reporters are not versed in the details of education nuance. Should they be? Should they actually do some research before the interview? Maybe I can blame them. A recent interview of new Florida Education (sic) Commissioner Tony Bennett- by the Tampa Bay Times was another softball. With facts, the interviewer could have really exposed Bennett for the fraud he is. Maybe the Times fears being frozen out? I am not sure.

Bennett was allowed to dodge question after question in the interview. I just wish someone could have confronted him with some details. If Mr. Bennett refuses to be candid, the media should shut him out. He is searching for friends in Florida and is already trying his best to mesmerize the media with a dazzling display of “dodgery.”

Here is an interesting question to and response from Bennett…

What do you say to people who say you are taking money out of the public school system when you should be promoting improvements within the public school system?

“I believe this. And this goes to a purely philosophical perspective, and I acknowledge that. And I acknowledge there are very smart people who may see this differently. I believe the state collects taxes to educate children, not to fund schools.”

Now look what Tony says later….

“I do believe we have a responsibility, be it at a public school or whatever, when we are spending taxpayer dollars … that we should be able to prove that schools perform for the money they are given.”

Sadly the interviewer missed this. Tony says we are going to defund and starve you but hold you “accountable.”  Sorry Tony but if you want me to cook- let me shop for the ingredients. Also Tony might want to read the Florida Constitution in reference to a quality (fully funded) PUBLIC education. I can send Tony a copy.

Bennett is a big believer in “choice.” Sadly- choice means segregation and a playing field that is anything BUT level. Why not give all schools the freedoms that charter schools enjoy? They will never allow this to happen. Merit pay has been tried for over 100 years but has never worked but Tony is backing that too. He supports the junk science of VAM.

I would love to ask Tony about the teacher who lost VAM points despite the fact that a student passed the state assessment. The student can now graduate but did not improve enough so the teacher was penalized.

I would like to educate Mr. Bennett on the educational testing complex here in Florida. Florida high schools will spend about 80 days involved in testing this year. It took 14 days last year to give one Algebra Exam. Mr. Bennett should not try to lie about testing time. Mr. Robinson did that and was exposed as a fraud. Testing time is not just the “length of the test.” It involves diagnostics that are also required by the state. There are state required diagnostics for all state testing.

There is even a test that all students must take before they are allowed to take a state test. It is supposed to familiarize students with the computer programs. Students must do this for EACH test they take.  The state tried to deny this in the press but I uncovered this document that mandates the test called EPAT. Bennett- like the Bush foundation- tried to blame districts for all the testing. Districts do test too much but most of it is required. We even have “A” schools forced to take something called the FAIR test THREE times a year.

If Bennett is really in favor of local control he would let teachers and schools decide which tests they should give. Is he aware that the state requires all of the diagnostics? Is he aware that one test takes several days to give?

I almost forgot! The state now REQUIRES high schools to give the PERT test. Why does Bennett continue to ignore the massive evidence that the best indicator of being college ready is NOT a  test?

I would love to ask Bennett about Common Core. This is another waste of money and time. There is nothing wrong with the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards. We do not have a standards problem. Common Core will increase the amount of testing in schools like never seen before. Why is Bennett not confronted with this? Districts have already been told to divert money for more computers to test! I spoke to one high school principal who said she will need 500 more computers to meet Common Core testing demands. More money being diverted to testing. There is no justification for Common Core.

Mr Bennett also decided to insult teachers (in the interview) by saying this about district and state required testing…

But then districts feel that because the tests are there, they do other tests to prepare.

“Again, that goes back to local control. I am a person that believes that formative assessments inform instruction. That is the reason you do them.”

The only formative tests needed are the ones that TEACHERS decide are necessary. Teachers are not allowed to decide much but get blamed when things go wrong. Teachers lose huge blocks of time testing and not teaching. Local control- Mr. Bennett- means letting schools decide what to do. Tony does not believe in local control. If he did he would not back the massive state mandates he did in Indiana and now Florida. Can districts/schools opt out of state testing they feel harmful? Nope. Let’s stop the local control canard Mr. Bennett.

Did you know that state pays over a million dollars a year to force students to take the PSAT? Is there an opt out? No. I called the DOE and they refused to tell districts that this is optional. The state also pressures districts into diverting money to more tests. We even have districts giving The College Board millions of dollars to force kids to take the SAT/ACT during the school day! Why? They want to improve their district and school grades. It is all a game. These tests were NEVER designed to be required (ACT,SAT,PSAT,PERT). When you require a test that was not designed to be required – the results are suspect at best.

The state has bribes (money and some freedoms) attached to school and district grades. Getting certain SAT/ACT scores will help school and district grades. It is disgusting to use our money and students as pawns in this game. This is all done with a wink and a nod.

Do people realize how much money is already being spent on Common Core consultants, technology, workbooks, and materials? I doubt it. Do people realize that Common Core will increase testing more than ever seen before on the planet? NO. DOE has hidden this.  The opposition to Common Core has been muted. Florida took due process rights away from teachers and has not been honest about Common Core and its massive testing. People will be begging for FCAT to come back. We must educate folks about this. The same folks who sold us NCLB are back with the same poison under a different label.

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