ERIK FRESEN ARMS CROSSED

Take it to the bank. Rep. Erik Fresen is determined to make his flawed $10K teacher “bonus” permanent with HB 7043. The $44 million dollar Best & Brightest passed last session in the most cowardly way – stuffed last minute into the massive budget bill – avoiding a full public hearing.

Fresen’s Best & Brightest endured a rocky first year that underscored the known bias that favors new teachers over veterans.  Many teachers found that their 80% or higher percentile rankings were hard to locate while other “highly effective” teachers never took the SAT. Which strikes at the ridiculous core of this bill – the unscientific premise that a test taken by a seventeen-year-old predicts adult performance for years to come.

And what does Rep. Erik Fresen use to justify spending at least $44 M in perpetuity? His opinion.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

The concept is Fresen’s brainchild. He calls it both recruitment and a retention tool, telling a Senate panel earlier this month that “common sense would tell you that a smarter person may do a better job teaching.”

Where’s the “common sense” in Rep. Fresen rushing, with zero empirical evidence, to codify into law an annual $44M “bonus” program that rewards teenage SAT scores in a state that pays its teachers some of the lowest salaries in the nation?

What about the miracle of big data?  What about VAM?  What about the soul-crush of Marzano? Isn’t it a “reform” imperative that legislators spend billions on these schemes and more to prove teacher “effectiveness?”

Fresen continues in the Times:

“By passing this bill, we will be able to attract and retain the highest quality teachers to our classrooms, make sure our colleges and universities are equipping students for success in the workforce, and create more world class universities by providing additional support to our emerging preeminent schools.”

That last bit is really confusing. Apparently the Florida Legislature is unaware that many top colleges and universities are moving away from requiring standardized tests for admission. They are rejecting what Frank Bruni called in the New York Times an “admissions process that warps the values of students drawn into a competitive frenzy.”

Blogger Nancy Bailey writes in her postCould Changing College Admissions be the end of High- Stakes Testing?, that one of several conclusions drawn in Harvard’s Turning the Tide study, includes the goal of changing college admissions to “de-emphasize standardized testing, which could include making SAT and ACT optional.”

Last year veteran Sen. Nancy Detert was clear about the Best & Brightest bonus when she said, “we refused to hear it because it’s stupid.” This year, Sen. Legg sponsored SB 978, the companion to Best & Brightest and voted against his own bill in the K-12 Committee while Sen. Detert voted yes, keeping it alive as a bargaining chip.

Let’s hope someone with real common sense stops the Best & Brightest from becoming a permanent law based on a thin political “opinion.”