They can't handle the truth.
As Florida students sat hunched over their desks this week to fill in the bubbles on standardized tests, here's an FCAT question for Pinellas school superintendent Julie Janssen and the School Board: Why do test scores for African-American students in Pinellas — at every grade level — lag behind their peers in other big districts in Florida on reading and math FCATs? That is just one fact that Florida Board of Education member Kathleen Shanahan referred to this week when she challenged the community to own the problem at the Your Voice in Education Reform Symposium. Armed with statistics about Pinellas' failing schools, Shanahan offered tough love. The response was predictable and disappointing: a plea for more time from Janssen, who has had enough time after nearly three school years; and criticism from School Board member Linda Lerner, who defended failure. Making excuses, denying reality and shooting the messenger hardly instills confidence that Pinellas is on the right path toward improving student performance.