By way of the Opt Out Florida Network comes one more horrifying tale of a child suffering at the hands of Florida's bizarre test fetish.
Elizabeth Shea of Pinellas County is the mother of a nine-year-old autistic son. The students has an IEP and a service dog to help him cope with the stress and difficulty that come with being a nine-year-old autistic boy. Yes, service dogs for autistic folks is a thing, and kind of a genius thing at that. But because the student in question is nine years old, the law says that the dog must be accompanied by its cerified handler, which in this case is Shea herself.
Shea's story should have been simple, because she reports doing everything that sense would tell you needs to be done.
We had arranged months ago through IEP meetings, supplying all paperwork, ID, records, that the dog would report with him for any testing, both with the school district and the FLVA where he is a student.
And yet, when Shea reported to the testing site, the folks in charge simply couldn't wrap their head around the situation. The dog has to stay with the child. The handler has to stay with the dog. But the handler may not be in the room with the child while he is taking the test. It took a vice-principal and a test proctor to assert and re-assert that the child had to be alone in the room with the test.
Even when Shea and her husband proposed that their son simply break the seal and sign his name, satisfying Florida's beyond-silly rule that every student must "participate" in the test in some manner, the officials were adamant that nobody could be in the room with this nine year old boy (who was by this point was crying and hitting himself in the face) even to commit an act that would "invalidate" the child's test results.
None of this is exactly a surprise for those who pay attention to Florida, the state that hounded the mother of a dying child and the family of a child who can barely communicate.
The devotion to the test is astonishing. Officials were not concerned about the Americans with Disabilities Act. They were not concerned about the child's IEP. They were not concerned with the child's well-being. And most bizarrely, they were not even concerned with getting legitimate results from the test, for surely they couldn't have imagined that a child so agitated under such conditions would produce test results that meant anything remotely authentic. So they weren't even interested in the integrity of the test-- just bound and determined that the child would go through the "proper" test motions in the "proper" manner.
I know people with whom I disagree strenuously about the Big Standardized Test, and while I think they are absolutely wrong, I believe that some of them sincerely believe that the test is a valid instrument that accomplishes useful things for students and teachers and schools.
But this is something else entirely. This is a devotion to the BS Test completely divorced from any belief in its validity or usefulness, a fetishism separated from any functional quality of the test itself. This is idol worship, and an idol worship that sets the Test above all else. It's not just educationally unsound and abusive of children-- it's nuts!