testing and a lack of resources but another big problem Florida has is lack of
quality leadership. Under Scott there have been 4 different education
commissioners six if you count Pam Stewart’s two intern stints. Robinson his
first appointee resigned after backlash about constant changes to the grading
system. Bennett his second resigned to defend himself against ethics
violations in Indiana where he recently agreed to pay a 5,000 dollar fine. Then
Stewart the current one has somehow managed to keep her job despite saying
Common Core wouldn’t cost any extra money, its costing hundreds of
millions more, the Value Added teacher evaluation mess which saw some
teachers evaluated on students they never taught and spending five million
dollars to field test Florida’s next tests to Utah, perhaps the least
similar to Florida state in he union.
Then lets consider Scott’s appointees to the state board of education which
came up with both race based goals and who rubber stamp, often over districts
objections, everything to do with charter schools. There is Gary Chartrand the
chair a grocer who brought several charter schools to Jacksonville, Marva
Johnson a cable TV executive, Andy Tuck an evolution denier and orange grower
and Rebecca Fishman Lipsey who spent two years in the classroom, in New York
and was a Teach for America executive before becoming a consultant. Not one
true educator in the bunch. Can you imagine running a police department or
hospital without police or doctors? Well with these people in charge of
education that is about the equivalent.
And then there is Rick Scott himself. He has endorsed common core despite
the fact it does absolutely nothing to address poverty and then thinks
just because we are calling it Florida Standards nobody will
notice. He has dramatically increased the rate of privatization
through charter schools and vouchers which have no evidence saying they perform
better than public schools and among other things he stripped teachers of work
protections and instituted a merit pay system (SB 736) which might sound
great to some but has never worked in practice and then failed to fund it.
Public education in Florida gets a bad rap but the truth is it is our
leadership that has failed us.