In education quality should count, in Florida only tests do

From the Times Union

by Kathleen Oropeza, FundEducationNow.org

Education Week just released its 2012 Quality Counts Rankings. Florida earned a C+ dropping the state from 5 down to 11 overall— the biggest drop of any state.

Last year Florida politicians literally gushed over Florida’s rank of “5th in the nation,” forgetting to mention that it was only for data collection, not achievement.

Predictably, the spin started early. The Tampa Bay Times reported that the Florida Chamber of Commerce “ignored the drop and instead hailed Florida’s ascension from 31 four years ago to 11 today.”

The article quotes Chamber executive Mark Wilson saying, “Focusing on educational outcomes for students, rewarding great teachers and providing choices for parents are a winning strategy for securing Florida’s future.

“Gov. Rick Scott’s focus on education and his commitment for putting a priority on Florida’s most important investment is the right direction.”

Wilson is engaging in some master-level puffery.

Florida politicians have cut public education funding by $4 billion in three years. We have districts considering four-day weeks.

There is no money to “reward great teachers.” Our “Merit Pay” bill was a $2 billion unfunded mandate.

Florida’s children are caught between these radical extremes.

They are being hurt.

Parents know it and teachers know it. Just take a look at some the individual grades Florida earned:

C Chance for Success

C- Achievement

A Assessments

D+ Finance/Funding

F Spending

D College readiness

While Florida politicians drain billions from public school funding, they divert hundreds of millions to lower standard “choice” schools.

They invest hundreds of millions in high stakes tests and refuse to pay teachers on par with other professions.

These reforms are pushing Florida public education toward the brink of collapse.

Short-sighted and profit-driven, the reformers are severely limiting our children’s chance for success.

An F in spending and a D in college readiness prove that defunding Florida public education, narrowing the curriculum and obsessive, expensive high-stakes tests are policy failures.

Quality does count.

The problem for Florida politicians and reformers is that quality requires investing in the living, breathing children we know and love, not education industry profiteers.

http://jacksonville.com/opinion/letters-readers/2012-01-17/story/lead-letter-education-decline-gets-some-spin#comment-form#ixzz1jloakk52

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