Accountability is a two-way street, Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test

By Kathleen Oropeza | Guest columnist

ORLANDO SENTINEL May 6, 2011

An entire education policy that thrives on repetition, monotony, and discipline is being enacted, stunting creativity and curiosity under the guise of the false idol of accountability. What is more, this policy has a differential impact, depending on students’ race and class.                                                                                                                        

Dan DiMaggio, “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Test Scorer”

 

 Obsessed with “Accountability,” Florida lawmakers have strapped Children, Teachers and Parents to a short leash yet they are unable to live with the same constraints.  None of their expensive, unproven “reform” bills come with any funding.  A tax is a tax even if it’s called an “unfunded mandate.”

Where’s the accountability for them?

From day one of this session, Senators and Representatives have set about turning our schools into high-stakes test factories.  Our children are becoming irrelevant to the “education process.”  Soon there will be an End of Course exam to measure, pass or fail every single school experience from art to PE.  And so it goes, 0ur kindergartners full of hope and the joy of discovery set to lose the bounce in their step under the arch eye of the school-marm state.

We cannot let our children be used as test-taking minions to justify the purchase of billions in testing materials.   Forget critical thinking.  Our children will spend some of their best years drilling to the tests, knowing that their work better be good enough to deliver money to their school, keep their teachers employed and spare themselves from being labeled a loser in the eyes of the state.

This is not what Florida parents want for their children.  This session is not about a high quality system of public education.  Hardworking, property-owning families have endured years of cuts and brought in millions of dollars in copy paper, toner and toilet paper to school every year.  We’ve paid for FCAT workbooks and other classroom materials with funds raised by our children going door to door in every neighborhood.  We’ve spent billions on wrapping paper each and every year just to fill the shortfall created by the state’s refusal to perform their paramount duty to fund public education.

Parents and teachers bring all of their love, quarters and dimes to make lemonade out of the increasingly rotten bowl of lemons doled out by thoughtless politicians.  Florida lawmakers have lost the plot.  They have strayed dangerously far from the fundamental American Value that wants something better for the next generation.

The pledge to never raise any new taxes rings a little false when some teachers spend half their meager earnings on classroom supplies and every child in this state requires someone, either a parent or a generous community member, to make cash supplements on their behalf.  There are 2,646,000 students in Florida.  Conservatively, each student needs at least a $100 “donation” to bridge the gap at their school.  Just do the math.

We are being taxed BILLIONS after taxes to make this work.  WE have earned the right to expect accountability from our legislators.  This year is a stacked deck.  The legislation that lies ahead is not good for our children.

Governor Scott postponed Sun Rail, a $1.2 Billion dollar project, just to “examine the financial impact on Florida taxpayers.”  What in the world are legislators thinking when they pass bills with enormous multi-billion dollar costs and no prayer of paying for them?

Accountability is a two-way street.  An unfunded billion dollar reform is just like a bad check, it’s a lie.

How can we expect our children to value honesty if we tolerate legislators who bend and twist the truth?

It’s time to take every one of these so-called servants of the people to the accountability woodshed for some serious discipline.  If we don’t teach this lesson to our kids, right now, no one will.