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Florida Chamber Misleads on Education

The Common Core faithful are in damage control in Florida. Within the last week we have seen Jeb Bush, former state GOP chairs and now Mark Wilson- from the Florida Chamber- put out newspaper defenses of Common Core. I have already written about the Jeb Bush and GOP chair pieces. You can read those on my blog. ALL three pieces must have written by the same staffer at the Jeb Bush foundation. They all repeat the same myths and deceptions in an attempt to mislead. Mark Wilson talking about education? Are you kidding me? Let me use his own words to show how he misleads. I really want to know who wrote the three pieces I have referenced.

Wilson says that standards are the key to the fiscal future of the state! Of course he has no evidence. He is playing politics. He says we have too many students graduating who are not ready for colleges, careers or even the military. The Quality Counts report that Wilson (or the person who wrote his piece) spoke of in his article have Florida an “A” for standards and “B” for assessments.  It looks like this destroys any argument to go to new standards or assessments. Of course Wilson (or whoever wrote his piece) never mentioned this.

Wilson is playing the dishonest game of trying to connect test scores and ranking with economic power. There is no connection. His (or the person who wrote his piece) notion is anti-evidence.

Let’s look at some of the things the Jeb Bush Foundation Mark Wilson said!

Wilson: “Graduation rates are going up despite more rigorous graduation requirements.”

My Response: Graduation rates are up around the nation. In Florida it actually due- in part- to LOWER standards. Over the last decade 25% of all graduates have only “graduated” by getting a waivers. They did not meet the same high standards others did. Florida also allows students to buy credit for round $300. Speaking of graduation rates, the rates for Black males are below that of Mississippi and near the bottom (Schott 2012).

Wilson: “And who would have guessed 15 years ago that in 2013 our fourth-graders would finish second in the world on an international reading assessment? But where we are still is not where we need to be.”

My Response: Where do we want to be?  You see, no matter how well kids do there is always some politician to attack them. The goal is to keep moving the bar when kids get too close! We must not have anyone touch the bar! This line is an insult to teachers, parents and students.  Sadly these 4th grade levels disappear as kids get run through the testing factories we once called schools.

Wilson: ” Too many high-school graduates require college remediation. Too many are unprepared for career training or even military enlistment.”

My Response: But Mr. Wilson- the Quality Counts report gave us an A on standards! So there is  no connection between standards and real life? I have three points here.

1. Many students are incorrectly placed into remediation programs. In Florida you are stuck there if you do poorly on a test. I am surprised Mr. Wilson (or whoever wrote this for him) repeated this myth. New studies from Columbia show that using test scores (as Florida does) lead to massive over-placement in remedial classes. If we used GPA we would save time, money and get kids where they SHOULD be.  Read this article and summary of the reports to see why the “Wilson” idea is misleading. The way Florida uses tests to place kids is immoral.

2. Unprepared for careers? Evidence please? We have tons of kids- few jobs.

3. I spoke to a military recruiter who I work with when my students express interest in the military. His response to the “Wilson” remarks was, “Garbage.”

Wilson: ” Despite the high national unemployment rate, millions of jobs go unfilled for lack of qualified applicants.”

My Response: This is a total myth. We have tons of qualified people and not enough jobs. Please see the recent study from Rutgers on this. Hal Salzman explodes the “Wilson” myth.  Wilson is trying to blame schools again.

Wilson: ” American students are mediocre performers on international assessments in math and science. If you look in the classrooms of today, you can easily envision students in Asia dominating the world of tomorrow.”

My Response: No, I can’t see that “Mark.”  The World Economic Forum has the US consistently at or near the top in most measures of economic competitiveness. This red scare tactic from “Wilson” is disgusting and he should resign for making it. Our students- not in poverty- score at or near the top of the world on international tests. When you want to start paying attention to the US (see UNICEF Report) and Florida being leaders in child poverty let me know. We scored dead last on the first international assessments 50 years ago. It is dishonest to connect testing with economic prowess.

 

Wilson: ” These challenging standards set the bar at college and career readiness. They prepare all students for a future after high school and level the playing field with the rest of the world.”

My Response: There is no evidence to back these remarks? How does “Wilson” know what they WILL do?  He should be selling used cars.

 

Wilson: ” Academic experts who have examined Common Core and Florida’s existing standards agree the former are a decided improvement.”

My Response: But our standards got an “A” from the Quality Counts Experts you touted!!  For every “expert” you find I will raise you one who says YOU are wrong.

Wilson: ” We not only will be able to judge our students against each other, but also against students in Massachusetts, Maryland and other high-achieving states.”

My Response: We already do this. WE ALREADY DO THIS.  Ever hear of NAEP? SAT? ACT? What are you talking about?

Wilson: ” And to put one plot to rest, states will remain in control of all confidential student data.”

My Response:  Wrong again. The Federal Government is being sued (case starts today) over relaxing FERPA rules allowing easy access to student DATA by third parties.

Wilson: ” It would be foolish to back off an accountability system that has served us so well.”

My Response: But you just said our kids were not ready for college, careers or even the military. You can’t have it both ways.

 

*I cannot let people continue to mislead citizens like the recent crop of articles by (supposedly) Mark Wilson, Jeb Bush and GOP state chairs do. As a teacher- I am calling all of you out.

 

“And so it pains me to see Common Core dragged into the political arena.”   – WILSON

 

My Response: YOU JUST DID THAT.

 

 

 

 

 

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