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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Like freed slaves with second thoughts

24

January

Fair Just so you know, we're hitting the doozy-alert button: Critics who continue to demand that the FCAT-centric system installed by former Gov. Jeb Bush either be overhauled or dismantled – despite some signs of academic progress - are like freed black slaves who had second thoughts about freedom, says state Board of Education Chairman T. Willard Fair (left).

Some freed slaves "were overwhelmed by the demands of freedom and wanted to go back," Fair, who is black, told the Times' education blog, The Gradebook, during a brief phone interview this week. In the same vein, he continued, there are some accountability critics who "no matter how much progress we're making, they say, 'Let's go back.'"

Those who follow education in Florida know Fair, a Jeb ally who was re-appointed by Gov. Crist, does not shy from the occasionally blunt and, depending on where you stand on the ed reform spectrum, eye-popping remark. At a BOE meeting in 2006, he told Gov. Bush: "In my judgment, there is no greater person on this Earth than you. I love you." A few months later, he heaped praise on departing Education Commissioner John Winn, likening him to Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. (for more on that, click here).

Fair's latest remarks came in response to a few questions from The Gradebook about the future of accountability in Florida. He was asked about yet another poll showing how unpopular the FCAT is; continued criticism of the System that Jeb Built (like this for example); and the Jan. 9 report from Education Week magazine that gave Florida credit for strong academic progress (see St. Petersburg Times story on that here).

"It's very difficult," Fair said, "for some people to admit to themselves and to the public that they were wrong."

- Ron Matus, state education reporter

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 3:18pm]

    

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