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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Are Florida's public school defenders part of the problem?

Here's an interesting take on the Florida parent groups that have grown into a major advocacy role for the public schools, from former Gradebook contributor Ron Matus on the Step Up For Students (corporate tax credit vouchers) Redefined blog:

"Some of the same people who say Jeb Bush and like reformers are out to trash public schools are the ones, in fact, who often trash public schools themselves. In their haste to throw stones, they put themselves in the position of dismissing the hard work of teachers and the hard-won gains of low-income students.

"I know that sounds harsh. But the past few weeks have yielded some notably brazen examples.

"In the wake of the FCAT writing fiasco, Fund Education Now, the Orlando-based parents group that has become a grassroots powerhouse, said the test results were “proof that Tallahassee’s ‘education reforms’ are an unmitigated disaster.” The group’s founders said “Bush’s policies have created the impression that Florida schools are failing,” according to StateImpact Florida, a group affiliated with National Public Radio. In an op-ed, co-founder Kathleen Oropeza argued that “fourteen years of unproven, expensive ‘reforms’ have not produced the rumored ‘Florida Miracle.’" ...

"Here’s what all these statements have in common: a complete refusal to acknowledge that Florida students have made some of the most dramatic improvements in the nation in the past 14 years. NAEP results show this. AP results show this. Graduation rates show this. In the 1990s, one academic indicator after another showed Florida kids wearing dunce caps in the nation’s academic cellar. But in the last four years no less a respected arbiter of education quality than Education Week has ranked Florida No. 11, No. 8, No. 5 and No. 11, respectively, among all 50 states. It must be emphasized that the gains have been especially strong for low-income and minority students. Reform supporters have rightly lauded the trend lines, rightly noted there are miles to go, and, again and again, rightly thanked the talented, driven teachers who were essential to making it happen."

Check out his entire provocative argument, and consider whether there's any truth to the notion that the people who say they're supporting the system are actually knocking it down.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 10:02am]


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