For years now, I’ve wondered who owns school boards. Venture philanthropists come into cash-strapped districts and suddenly parents and citizens find their voices no longer matter. Anyone with the right amount of money, well-meaning or not, can take over how schools in that district will be run and what students will learn. Is that about to change?
With a vote of 3 to 2 the Lee County School Board stunned a lot of people Wednesday night by voting to discontinue state standardized testing.
Political activists were out in force including Libertarians.
Parents with young children sat tight awaiting the vote. A seven-year-old spoke about a test where the computer told her she couldn’t read. I couldn’t help but notice that she seemed to be reading notes on what she was supposed to say. She did a superb job. But she was so tiny her mother had to hold her up to the microphone. I think that alone spoke volumes.
Then there was the mother whose ill child had to take the test though his condition was terminal. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard enough of that kind of testing ridiculousness and cruelty to last me forever.
The superintendent, who seems like a nice woman, disagreed with the vote along with another board member. I actually sort of understand her predicament. Testing, in and of itself, is rather important, but Florida and most other states have just gone so far with it that there was bound to be a backlash someday. For small children, children with disabilities…some severe…and even older students, testing has been too much for too long. And last night Lee County said no more.
But the superintendent also worried me. She implied there would be repercussions: children would be held back; others would not graduate. She and the other board member had sought a plan.
But where was it? How will the Florida DOE respond? Will the board be in trouble? One problem everyone has noticed with the Opt Out movement is that children might bear the brunt of the retribution when their parents take them out of the test. I hope that won’t be the case here.
I am also wondering if this incident with testing will help Libertarians and Conservatives who fight so much against the Common Core, understand teachers a little better. Will they be supportive of them and their unions? Will they push back on vouchers and the mismanagement of charter schools that set up a dual system? These things can be considered detrimental on students too.
But for now it was nice to see democracy in action with a school board vote for the parents…those pesky stakeholders as the corporatists are probably calling them now.
And in the days and weeks to come it will be interesting if other school boards gather courage to do the same thing.
How will Jeb Bush react, especially if he is planning to run for President? Doesn’t he need the votes of the anti-testing crowd…which is growing very big? And one of these days Hillary Clinton will have to quit skirting around education too. Won’t she? Something tells me with the next presidential election they’re not going to be able to give lip service to these issues.
One thing is for certain, a lot of parents are ticked off about testing. They realize there is more to education and it doesn’t have to be this way. States have been rolling along ignoring them and the teachers—not to mention the students. Last night they couldn’t do that any longer. Last night they had to pay attention. Congratulations Lee County!