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Comments from Florida

In response to my recent request for comments on the state of education in Florida, a high school English teacher wrote to say:

Things are bad in Florida for teachers and students. I only see them getting worse as time shows the stupidity of our politicians and their following the "suggestions" of self appointed experts.

I haven't seen much evidence to indicate that Florida policymakers are spending any time listening to actual educators about how to improve student learning, so I think there's something to this commenter's remarks.

On Sunday, the Palm Beach Post's Jac Wilder VerSteeg was equally pointed in this editorial about "school-bashing" in the Sunshine State:

The list of applicants to replace Eric Smith as education commissioner was so thin that the deadline was extended to today. All the hype about Florida being a leader in education reform is no match for the truth that Florida is a national leader in education bashing.

Hiring a new education chief is crucial, since the Department of Education must oversee creation of the controversial FCAT-based teacher evaluation system Gov. Scott and the Legislature imposed this session, even though no working model of such a system exists.

Such hollow "reforms" have been typical of Florida, starting with former Gov. Jeb Bush. His major "reforms" were a bogus school grading system and a regime of standardized tests, which have not resulted in superior student performance sustained through high school. His basic voucher program was unconstitutional, and his other voucher schemes lacked academic and financial accountability.

It seems that the word "reform" indeed requires quotation marks around it, at least when we're talking about Florida. I'd love to hear from more educators—email me (click my name above) if you'd like to share your thoughts, anonymously or not.

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