Monday, August 1, 2011

Rick Scott wants to double down on high stakes testing

From Scathing Purple Musings, by Bob Sykes

The Tampa Bay Times Jeff Solochek reports on Rick Scott’s speech to Pasco County republicans. Knowing he was in the room with like-minded supporters, Scott let loose with predictable drivel on education:

Scott opened his remarks by praising Pasco Republicans for helping to elect conservatives like Will Weatherford, the incoming speaker of the Florida House. He urged them to continue their grassroots efforts to put more conservatives in office to help enact laws that families care about.

“What do you think families care about?” he said. “They want their children to get a great education. … They want to make sure they can get a job. And they don’t want government to raise the cost of living.”

He segued into the issue of teacher tenure.

“We love our teachers,” Scott said. “But no one should be guaranteed a job. Our principals should be able to … pick the best teachers.”

Republicans like Scott and some of those in the room probably bristled when Democrats would condemn the war in Iraq all the while maintaining that they supported the troops. A similar disconnect exists in Scott’s rhetoric. You can’t love teachers while mocking them.

But most telling about his appearance before this friendly audience is what Scott ignored: the growing number of school boards and parent groups who are passing resolutions on high-stakes testing. Writes Solochek:

Scott also mocked universities that are seeking to increase tuition by 15 percent each year, and spoke enthusiastically about continuing the state’s testing and accountability system. There has to be a way to measure results in the schools, he said. He related that he called a teacher who complained about the over-reliance on FCAT, a big issue these days. But when he asked the teacher for an alternative, the teacher had nothing to offer, Scott said with a smirk, as the audience tittered.

Scott – and Jeb Bush’s PR machine - are trying to spin that opposition to their test-dominated regime is coming from teachers. Not only are their efforts disingenuous, they are no longer intellectually defensible. Republican politicians are among the school boards who signed onto the resolutions which opposed their high-stake tests. Local school boards don’t really care what their teachers think anymore in large part due to demonization from Bush over the last decade.

Scott still feels that republicans are drinking the “choice” kool-aid:

Choice in the form of charters, vouchers and other options also help to improve education, the governor continued.

“Parents want choice,” he said. “All parents should have a choice. … Choice makes everyone better.”

With the Florida PTA joining other parent groups in the resolution on high-stakes tests, Scott and Bush can no longer claim to speak for parents. For them, choice means charter schools and vouchers. Not tests, you see. They build their choice arguments around the idea that parents know best, but outrageously deny their choice on testing.