Sunday, September 23, 2018
Education

Romano: Florida’s schools engaged in double standard of epic proportions

Your religious views matter, and don’t let anyone ever tell you differently.

This goes for evangelicals and agnostics, and everyone in between. A lawyer might argue it’s a First Amendment right, but it’s also a courtesy we should all embrace.

Even, or especially, when we don’t agree.

I mention this because of a story I read over the weekend. The Orlando Sentinel pointed out that many of the state’s private schools are using textbooks from a handful of Christian publishing companies that have, shall we say, alternative viewpoints of accepted scientific and historical data.

For instance, some of the books suggest Noah brought baby dinosaurs aboard his ark during the biblical flood. An eighth-grade textbook suggested the Protestant Reformation flourished in North America because God provided this land to keep Catholics from overrunning the Americas.

A workbook seemingly downplayed slavery by suggesting a black slave who believed in Christ had more freedom than "a free person who did not know the Savior.’’

Some people will read that and scoff. For others, it aligns perfectly with spiritual beliefs.

That’s not the point.

We already know people of faith and science sometimes view the world through different lenses. When you think about it, we should be proud that so many of us coexist despite those disparate views.

The more important point is this:

The state’s voucher program is funneling more than $1 billion annually to private schools, and the Florida Department of Education does not regulate, or even monitor, what’s being taught.

I’m not suggesting private schools shouldn’t be allowed to teach what they want. And I’m not suggesting parents shouldn’t be allowed to enroll their children in their schools of choice.

What am I suggesting is Florida is engaging in a double standard of epic proportions.

Our traditional public schools are micromanaged by the Legislature to an absurd degree, while private schools take advantage of taxpayer largesse with virtually no accountability.

This isn’t just about textbooks. Lawmakers are fanatical about public school children being forced to take a series of standardized tests, no matter what their parents have to say on the topic. And those tests have become so closely tied to school funding and teacher evaluations that curriculum is heavily monitored and narrowly focused toward the materials on the test.

Meanwhile, private school students don’t have to take those tests.

And private school textbooks do not have to be approved.

And private school teachers do not have to be certified.

And yet those private schools still get voucher money.

This isn’t about whether you believe in Adam and Eve or the Origin of Species. It isn’t even about whether the Legislature is circumventing the state Constitution with its voucher program.

The bigger picture is that the state has created an uneven playing field. It is pushing private and charter schools as being more innovative and parent-friendly, while at the same time handcuffing traditional public schools with more and more onerous regulations.

Surely, there is something in those religious textbooks that covers hypocrisy.

 

Comments
USF assistant VP rides AHN wave of support to success

USF assistant VP rides AHN wave of support to success

Editor’s note: Academy of the Holy Names junior Tress Jacobs spent the summer of 2018 shadowing Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper. To conclude the experience, she interviewed Academy alumnus Kim Wilmath Hill and filed this report.By Tres...
Updated: 6 hours ago
How do you explain active shooters to a first-grader? For educators, school safety is a ‘work in progress.’

How do you explain active shooters to a first-grader? For educators, school safety is a ‘work in progress.’

Active assailant. Run-hide-fight. Barricade the classroom. The language of preventing a shooting like the one this year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is often filled with terms that can stir up fear in students, often out of necessity.But f...
Published: 09/22/18

Two acclaimed authors to speak about water at USF St. Petersburg

Pulitzer Prize winner and University of Florida professor Jack Davis thinks people need to humble themselves more toward water."The water doesn’t belong to us, we belong to the water," he said. "Without water, humanity would not exist, life would not...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18
Hillsborough school district releases referendum wish list

Hillsborough school district releases referendum wish list

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District on Friday released a long-awaited, school-by-school list of 1,785 projects to be funded by a proposed half-cent sales tax hike.The list, now on the district website, includes playgrounds for Anderson El...
Published: 09/21/18
Pinellas education news: college fairs, lectures and more

Pinellas education news: college fairs, lectures and more

Students, parents invited to three upcoming college and career fairsThree events are scheduled over the next two weeks that are designed to help students plan their next steps after leaving the Pinellas County school system. The University of South F...
Published: 09/21/18
Football player, band member, advanced student, girl: Pasco eighth-grader does it all well

Football player, band member, advanced student, girl: Pasco eighth-grader does it all well

TRINITY — Julie Michael stood in the metal bleachers, flute poised at her lips, ready to play the national anthem with the Seven Springs Middle School advanced band.As the band segued into the school fight song, the eighth-grader continued per...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Romano: We need education solutions not slogans from DeSantis, Gillum

Romano: We need education solutions not slogans from DeSantis, Gillum

And 200,000 third-graders just rolled their eyes.I swear, even they can see through the education proposals offered by gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum this week.Let’s see, the Republican wants more privatization. And the Democ...
Published: 09/20/18

Local rapper encourages elementary students to attend school every day(w/video)

Local rapper Corey Thornton performs original songs on Wednesday Sept. 18, 2019 about the importance of school attendance at Walsingham Elementary School during a school wide assembly. During Attendance Awareness Month, Pinellas County Schools and th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
USF faces a reality as it prepares to consolidate: This is going to be hard.

USF faces a reality as it prepares to consolidate: This is going to be hard.

TAMPA — All summer, while most students were gone, the University of South Florida has been toiling away on a blueprint for the complex merger of the USF System.Its three universities in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota will soon consolidate into o...
Published: 09/19/18
Employee pay dominates Pasco schools budget debate

Employee pay dominates Pasco schools budget debate

LAND O' LAKES — The Pasco County School Board unanimously adopted a $1.26 billion budget Tuesday with a slightly lowered tax rate and funding for new school construction in both east and west Pasco.But the spending item that grabbed most of th...
Published: 09/19/18