Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Who's right about Florida?

Sometimes, things get very confusing.  What is truth?  How do we know who is right and who is wrong?   What works, and what does not?  Can everything be explained by science?

Well, when it comes to education in Florida, it can't be any more polarizing.  On the one hand, we have this argument from Patricia Levesque with the Foundation for Excellence in Education that not only is everything just fine in Florida, we need MORE of what we've been doing.  Even Jeb Bush uses Florida as a model for the vision of education nation wide.  The argument is that the teachers and unions have it all wrong.  There is too much focus on "the adults" in education (whatever that means).  Every solution to every issue in education is accountability, rigor, and turnover.

On the other hand, we have parents, teachers, students, and social scientists saying that what has happened in Florida is not the right direction.  There is too much emphasis on high stakes testing, not enough focus on true lifelong learning, play, or the enjoyment of education.  There are multiple reports of increased illness and anxiety.  Mental health counselors can track increases in business in the month of March due to incoming "testing season" (how can we even have that term?!!!??).

And who is right?  All I know is that we are asking the wrong people.  If we want to know how education is going, we need to ask 3 groups of people:  the students that live education every day, the employers that hire the students, and the college professors that teach the students.  Only they can tell you where the truth lies in the debate over how well Florida is doing in education.  When you're finished asking them, PLEASE spend time in the classrooms to get a good look at what is truly happening.  When policy decisions are made without the stakeholders at the ground level, we will continue this absurd debate without ever knowing the truth or improving a thing.  In the meantime, I'll just focus on teaching students how to graph and analyze functions for awhile (and maybe stir up some trouble)...

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