Tuesday, October 11, 2016

FL: Oh, Come On Now!

I don't even want to be still writing about this story, but apparently Florida's flock of school administrators include some of the most terrible people ever. So here we are.

You will recall that several Florida parents sued their district, the state, and anyone else connected to the baloney-faced rule about refusing to pass third graders who hadn't scored on the third grade reading Big Standardized Test. Along the way, the state offered the defense that teacher-made report cards are meaningless, which makes one wonder if Florida doesn't intend to save money by completely defunding schools and just sending students to test centers to take their uber-important BS Tests.

Nobody in power in Florida was asking if the flunk-third-grade policy was even a valid or viable one (spoiler alert-- it isn't). They were just going to hold the line so that students would be forced to bow at the altar of the Holy Test.

Hey! Who gave that bird permission to fly without taking a flight test!

The ultimate result of this case was that children in particular and common sense in general won. A student who, for instance, was an honor student with straight A's in reading should not have to take the BS Test in order to be passed to fourth grade. The judge gave a pretty clear reading of the law, and that really should have been it, right?

Not right. Which is exactly how we will now start describing certain Florida administrators. The court said, "Put these kids in fourth grade." Some districts said, "Oopsies-- we just don't seem to have a seat for them in the school they used to attend."

Now several school districts have, predictably, appealed the ruling, and reportedly hiring a busload of lawyers to do it while the parents scrape together what they can to hire a couple of pros. Because really-- if we start letting students advance grades based purely on academic skills, teacher assessments, and demonstrated ability, then mere anarchy will be loosed upon the world, and some rough beast will soon be slouching toward fourth grade, demanding to be admitted. Nobody can disrespect the BS Test. These rowdy nine-year-olds must be put in their places. No, wait. These rowdy nine-year-olds must NOT be put in their places, even if the court says they must.

It has now been about a month since the latest move in this lumpy dance. Hernando schools refused to admit the fourth grade students, claiming that it was being swell by offering them the chance to do a testing portfolio to advance, which is kind of pretty much what the judge told them was not okay in the first place. Meanwhile, by appealing the ruling, the district put a stay on the execution of the judge's order. In other words, the alleged grown-ups of the district chose to play legal maneuvering games while the clock is ticking on the students' school year. A request to vacate the stay was denied by Gievers, mostly because the parents had gotten their children into home schooling. So in other words, if they had gone ahead and left their children stuck in the wrong assignment at school, taking actual damage from the district's decision, they'd have been in a better legal position. Sigh.

By the end of September, Hernando schools were showing signs of-- well, this article says cracks are appearing in the wall, but I believe the headline writer is mistaken.  A real change in Hernando would be to, well, comply with the Florida law that requires districts to provide a true portfolio option. No, they're going to stay proudly illegal on that point. Instead, they have found what they think might be an okay standardized test to substitute for its other standardized tests. I do not live in Florida, and I don't have a child in Hernando county, so I think that as an observer with no vested interest, I can go ahead and say that Hernando school administration sucks.

This whole ugly mess continues to be proof positive that state and district officials in Florida have exactly zero interest in students and their learning. Nobody is saying, "How can we best determine whether a student has the necessary reading skills." This whole case is about one question-- "How can we force these families to comply with our demand that all students take a BS Test." This is not about meeting the needs of students; this is about forcing students to meet the demands of the school system. This is indefensible crap, and it should have been done months ago. Shame on you, Florida.

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