Sen. Wise sounds off on some Bush-era policies
Education Week reports today that Sen. Stephen Wise has some serious beef with some of the landmark education policies enacted during Gov. Jeb Bush's time in office. The Republican, who has worked to get many Bush-endorsed education policies in place, takes issue with third-grade retention and the state's push to get more students into advanced classes.
From the item:
"The first is the state's policy of holding back some 3rd graders who can't demonstrate literacy on an exam. He said this, along with the emphasis on phonics and not meaning in reading, has caused widespread misery and disillusionment with school, particularly among poor minority students.
Wise said he is particularly incensed by 2010 data from the Cambridge, Mass.-based Schott Foundation for Public Education. He highlighted the foundation's report on "Public Education and Black Males" showing that three Florida districts (in Duval, Palm Beach and Pinellas counties) as among the 10 worst large school districts in the U.S. in terms of black male graduation rate for the 2007-08 school year."
Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, of course, offers its defense of those policies:
"A spokeswoman for the foundation, Jaryn Emhof, wrote in an email that "more African-American students are reading on grade level today than were a decade ago." She also said that more black students are taking the PSAT in preparation for college and passing Advanced Placement courses, and that graduation rates for minority students have also risen, proof that the policies Wise discusses aren't having a 'negative effect.'"
One striking thing about the item is the offensive language Wise uses to talk about the young, black males he's concerned about. Here's a quote:
"'They have a different language. They have a different context ... they have no idea what we're talking about," said Wise of many low-performing and young black male students. "We're failing them and we're holding them back, and then when they get to the 5th grade they're old, they're bigger than the teachers sometimes, and they still can't read."
He added later: "The two skills they have are 'steal and deal' and then they end up in the prisons because they can't get [jobs].'"