I would like to put forth a proposal. What could the Lee County School Board do to make everyone happy or at least happier? I have an idea.
Patricia Levesque, CEO of Tallahassee-based Foundation for Excellence in Education, Jeb Bush’s group, put out a long statement expressing “deep disappointment” in “abandoning” the tests. She mentioned accountability and resources and then she said something quite astonishing. She accused Lee County of administering “160 tests over and above state required assessments.”
Whoa! Rewind that tape! That is a lot of testing!
This is the time for Superintendent Graham to call for a task force of parents and teachers to delete the unnecessary tests! It will take some work, but here is your opening, parents! Insist upon it! You don’t have to be at the meeting Tuesday morning, although it might help to put this on the table. Politely visit the Superintendent and demand this “plan” she spoke of during last Wednesday’s meeting. I think she may be amenable to working with parents who want total opt out, to come to some consensus. You may not get rid of all the tests, but some is better than none. For now.
In fact, parents in every district should request a task force on testing that includes teachers and parents. And school boards supportive of their constituents should not deny them this request. This is one way for parents to get back their school boards and their schools…maybe.
To be honest, it is rather out of the ordinary to not have any tests. There were all kinds of concerns about graduation requirements, loss of grants, and this could hurt students in some very real ways. But getting a task force of parents together to push for eliminating the 160 tests that Levesque mentioned is, in my books, a win! School districts across Florida should determine what unnecessary tests they have in their schools as well. Florida could set a good example, for a change, for other states.
Parents must push for negotiating. If you attempt to get all testing removed, you will most likely fail, because losing school funding is serious business and the superintendent and school board members know this. But if you can get your foot in the door and remove some testing you will be making progress.
Now, if you cannot find the tests Levesque is talking about (some have stated on FB that they are required tests), and there is no true solution, petition against the testing and the state laws concerning tests that you decide are totally unnecessary and harmful to children, but leave the tests that would seriously impact student success, especially where college is concerned, and find out if there is an honest lawyer you can obtain who will be able to do some pro bono work. Try doing this with the superintendent and the school board. Use those words—“160 tests above what the state asks for” to make the state accountable.
And, maybe that petition could be state-wide. Remember, there will always be elections that concern politicians. I think there are enough anti-testing parents and teachers to begin to make a dent across the country.
Last, call Arne. To hear him now he is very much against testing. And since it took him so long, long enough to use tests to shutter hundreds of perfectly good public schools, and fire good veteran teachers across the country, I think he owes parents and their children. This is the time to make him put his money where his mouth is. Make him back you up with his words.
Seriously, parents need to hold the superintendent to her word about a plan. School boards are supposed to reflect the needs of the local community. This has very much been in the news recently with the PDK/Gallup Poll showing that the country wants more involvement in their public schools. School boards should be participatory. They are supposed to involve debate. Don’t just personally opt your children out, do that too, but see if you can get rid of some of the most harmful and redundant testing for starters. And begin the discussion with those who have the real power to make the changes necessary. Take your seat at the table!
No matter what, I wish Lee County’s students a productive and happy school year and parents some peace when it comes to testing. Good luck!