There are a lot of things I love about you. The winter weather. The splendor of your marshes and coastlines. The diversity of culture.
But I'll be honest. When it comes to education, you pretty much blow chunks.
In our schools, the best things happen in spite of Tallahassee, not because of it.
See, I love my son's world-history teacher. I trust my daughter's algebra teacher.
I neither love nor trust you.
Not when it comes to education, anyway.
With you, kids are treated like political props.
That would be bad enough. But right now, you're not even sure which political games you want to play with them.
You love the FCAT. You hate the FCAT.
You want Common Core. You don't want Common Core.
You want tough school grades ... until you decide to inflate them.
Please. Just. Stop.
It doesn't have to be as complicated — or political — as you make it.
The latest news has Gov. Rick Scott backtracking on some of his commitment to the state's new education standards, called Common Core, specifically with regard to testing.
This was partly in response to people who believe Common Core is some sort of United Nations takeover of public schools.
And this is the problem, Florida. Too often, you listen to the folks wearing tinfoil hats. These people need therapy couches, not seats at the curriculum table.
I don't know if Common Core is a panacea. Probably not.
But I'll tell you what I do like about it: It's a nationwide endeavor, created and adopted by governors and educators in a majority of other states. And frankly, I trust other states more than I trust you.
You, Florida, have treated my kids like a punching bag.
You have cut art classes. You have cut science curriculum. You have cut music and sports.
You cut many of the things that make kids well-rounded human beings.
See, my kids aren't widgets. They are creative, curious creatures. Their minds are like sponges.
They want to learn. I want them to learn.
About math and science. About reading and arts.
I want them to read Dickens and Bradbury. I want them to understand terminal velocity and the Electoral College. I want them to know how to multiply compound fractions and understand culture in the Middle East.
Yes, I want them to take tests — even standardized tests. Like I did when I was a kid. I just don't want those tests to be their obsession.
Many of my kids' teachers want and teach the same things. But they do so in spite of your bureaucratic baloney.
I want decisions about education made by people who teach for a living — not those who politic for one.
I am sick of politicians using my kids to pander to political causes, ideological groups and testing companies that write campaign checks.
I'm sick of legislators who home-school or privately educate their kids blustering about the sanctions they want to impose on other people's children.
It never seems to dawn on them that private schools are appealing, in part, because they aren't subjected to the same convoluted, top-down micromanagement imposed on public schools.
Here's the thing: Florida, we've had about a decade's worth of your "reform" — and it's a failure.
Not by my standards — by yours.
You insisted on making the world revolve around FCAT and then grading schools on those test scores. Yet we now have record numbers of F-rated campuses.
Even worse, that's with grade inflation, because you knew accurate scores would look even worse.
That's right. You inflated your own lousy grades — and then had the gall to lecture me and my kids about accountability.
Much of this has been a Republican-led war on education. But now it's Republicans at war with one another. Jeb Bush wants Common Core and associated testing standards. Rick Scott used to agree … until the tea party told him not to.
I think I'm ready to side with Jeb — not because I agree with everything he does, but because he has widespread support, from the national teachers association, President Obama and governors in both parties.
Opponents of Common Core include Glenn Beck and a liberal splinter group of the teacher's union.
I think I'd rather hang with the first guys.
Still, I'll still be watching closely. If Common Core — which attempts to measure deeper levels of problem-solving and comprehension — doesn't deliver as promised, I'll object. If the testing that accompanies it is suspect, I'll speak up.
Ideally, I think decisions should be made at the local level by trained educators.
But for now, I'm ready for this state to join the big kids.
Basically, Florida, I've had enough of your "reform."
It's now time for you to reform — and put kids and teachers ahead of politics and talking points.
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