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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Education activist groups offer thoughts on Florida commissioner search



The Florida Board of Education is set to approve a job description for its new commissioner search when it meets via conference call Friday morning.

Hoping to have some influence in the discussion, a wide-ranging coalition of organizations including LULAC, the NAACP, the Florida PTA and several education activist groups such as Fund Education Now and the Dade Association of School Administrators have issued a joint statement with some suggestions of where to start.

The groups propose that the next commissioner be someone who:

(1) will collaborate with parents, educators, community organizations, and local elected officials to restructure the flawed accountability system into a credible system that informs and improves learning, rather than punishes;

(2) is committed to ensuring that districts eliminate zero tolerance and implement fair, supportive and non-exclusionary disciplinary practices, in keeping with Florida's groundbreaking 2009 state law;

(3) will promote the wise use of limited public dollars to support teaching and learning practices that prepare all students for college and career success, rather than an excessive focus on narrow definitions of achievement through testing;

(4) will maintain the Task Force on Accountability for Exceptional Education, Special Needs, and English Language Learners as an advisory board; and

(5) is free of any real or perceived conflicts of interest with regard to privatization, test publishing, or lobbying.

Its recommendations contrast with the state's proposed language, which focuses on finding someone who is student-oriented and focused on creating "trust and mutual respect," but also well versed in "standards-based education and education reform." That's a term the critics have taken to serve as code for aggressive school choice, high-stakes testing and accountability, among other initiatives they don't fully support.

Stay tuned to see whether these groups get the chance they seek to participate fully in the process. The State Board meets at 8:30 a.m. on Friday.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 6, 2012 8:46am]


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