As Florida has moved to expand school vouchers, critics have suggested the Republican leadership espouses a double standard — while it advocates testing-based accountability for district schools to prove they are meeting state expectations, it disdains a similar model for the private schools that accept taxpayer-funded vouchers.
A member of the audience at the Manatee County Tiger Bay Club meeting pointed out the discrepancy to three House members on Thursday.
And, according to the Herald-Tribune, the response was not exactly expected.
The two freshman Republicans on the panel, Reps. William Robinson and Tommy Gregory, suggested the problem wasn’t in holding the private schools to too low an accountability standard. Rather, it was asking too much of the public school students.
They said they’d rather cut back testing for district schools than add it to the private schools.
“I don’t think the answer is to take these ridiculous burdens and apply them to everyone,” Gregory said.
Their comments come a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his desire to increase accountability for the prekindergarten centers, most of which are private, that accept Voluntary Prekindergarten vouchers. His concern was that too many 5-year-olds are entering kindergarten unprepared for the work.
In recent years, when lawmakers have pushed for “fewer, better tests,” their efforts have been limited to a handful of changes that eliminated few exams but did shift the testing window and allow for more paper-based testing.
With new vouchers on the way, is the tide shifting on testing and accountability? Maybe we’ll learn more when lawmakers return to Tallahassee for committee weeks in a few months.