Saturday, April 10, 2010

Caveat Lectores on Education Reform

A large part of the Caveat Lectores readership is located outside Florida; therefore, this Rant may have no application to many. Unfortunately, what happens in one place tends to happen elsewhere much like a pandemic. This Rant may have relevance after all.

The Florida legislature just passed a piece of education reform legislation that astounds even me. WTF were they thinking? OK, I forgot. How silly of me. The rePuPlican dominated legislature does not think. The members follow leadership directives like sheep. Once the leadership decides how to screw the public, the sheep tag along.

Without taking up word processor space describing the piece of sh*t they passed, let me just say the new law dismantles the current education system by tying teacher pay to student improvement (standardized testing) and eliminates teacher tenure based upon the notion that tenure creates a job for life without accountability. Caveat Lectores disagrees with both concepts but….there will be plenty of expert pundits analyzing what is wrong and right about this idea.

I will address the issues the Caveat Lectores way.

Standardized FCAT testing has been soundly criticized by nearly all except the Jeb Bushy’s (yes, his legacy still lives) as a method of dumbing down the students in public schools. I am beginning to see the results at the university level in students who only know how to learn enough to pass a standardized test. Knowledge that will not be on the exam is irrelevant to them. Education has been abandoned because of the need to learn only certain facts necessary to pass the FCAT.

FYI. Bushites want to destroy the government run public school system in favor of charter schools that will eventually become public funded private schools for the wealthy, able to ignore those pesky minority children and those with problems that make things unpleasant for the wealthy (white) children of privilege. The students will be able to attend these charter schools that align themselves with the economically segmented and segregated communities they serve.

The political hacks that run them will prosper because these schools are allowed to operate without those annoying standards the public schools insist on having in place. Somebody will be served but certainly not be a society that needs the entire population educated. The education system currently in place has problems of course, but what has just occurred is not the answer; yet the rePuPs did it anyway.

There is another piece of legislation this term that increases corporate vouchers for charter schools. Frankly, I do not exactly understand how this works except to say that it is soundly thought of as corporate welfare in the form of tax breaks for corporations that further drain the public schools system of needed funds. Again, thank Jeb Bush and the rePuPs for additionally gouging the public for the benefit of business.

Senator John Thrasher (a Bushie) takes credit for this abomination for reasons that evade my understanding. I can understand his desire to punish the teachers who did not support him and Jeb Bush, but why punish the children? Usually, there is an obvious public purpose for legislation as well as a political motive. I have not been able to find evidence of a public outcry that would have motivated this insanity. There is always the issue about quality education; and teachers, one way or another, are usually blamed for lack of success.

Recently, teacher tenure became the “whipping post” to which right wing conservatives tie educators so they can affix blame. I guess the Bush mantra goes like this. “If we take away any semblance of job security from teachers and affix pay directly to an undeveloped plan of pay for performance, this will motivate who is left to become excellent teachers.” Wow, why didn’t I think of that?

BTW, in addition to other endeavors; I have been a fledgling adjunct instructor in the public university system for the last 17 years. My tenure runs from class meeting to class meeting on semester long contracts that allow the school to terminate me at will. On more than one occasion, the school has informed me they no longer need me, only to call me back to teach again. I have no complaints about this process because I have another career as a lawyer and labor consultant to rely upon to keep me marginally economically alive. My only child was educated in the public school system. I do have grand children at risk, however.

I have some concerns about how the entire public school system would operate if my situation were applied to all teachers in Florida. That is where we are headed with nothing more than yearly contracts for public school teachers. The only people who will remain in a few years are part-timers like me and those who cannot get another job outside what is left of the system. That does not sound promising.

Maybe the rePuPlican governor will nut up and veto such an ill conceived law. I would like to suggest you find out who voted for this law and punish them the next time they want your support so they can f*ck you again.

And Oh yes, have a Nice Day?



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