As a parent in the Sunshine State I have watched out public school system slowly become more and more stressful for the students. We have the FCAT, which is our state mandated test that is used to measure what the kids know. The biggest problem with it is if your child is an Honor Roll student but fails the FCAT, s/he will be repeating that grade. This puts enormous stress on the child to perform. This is also a major strain on teachers who basically spend the year teaching the test. They are left cutting out elements that might actually make learning fun for the kids.
Now our state government is attempting to introduce a bill that would base teacher pay on their students' FCAT scores. It apparently wasn't enough that they were basing bonuses and funding dollars on student scores, now they are going even further and basing pay on them as well. This is completely unreasonable. How would our senators like it if we based their pay on how many votes they got for bills they introduced? Or how successful programs they initiated were?
I am reaching out to my fellow Floridians who are members of Mom Congress to contact your local senators and representatives and tell them to vote no on sb6 (and its counterpart in the House). I have written all of my elected officials, as well as the senators who came up with this ingenious bill. Please help me get the message out that this is not a piece of legislation we need, for the sake of our kids. I have included the letter I emailed to Senator John Thrasher, who is spearheading the bill. Let's get together and kill this bill!!
Have you ever seen an 8 year-old child with his nails bitten down to the quick suddenly burst into tears in a classroom? Then, no matter how much you want to comfort this child, who isn't even your child, you know you can't because you are hoping beyond hope that he can pull himself together because you can't talk to him while proctoring? As a mother of 11-year-old twins in the broken system we call Florida's Education System, I have seen this. How can you stand by knowing that there is no reason for someone this young to be this stressed out about anything in his life? What are we doing to our children, our future? The FCAT is the most detremental thing I have EVER had to endure while trying to raise my sons as contributing members of society. I have seen my own children's eyes filled with worry the night before a test. I have rubbed their tummies until they fell asleep. I have watched a school full of kids wondering around like lost puppies on the morning of FCAT, nervously nibbling on their lips and fingers. Haven't we done enough to these kids? Haven't we made it hard enough on them when you consider that kids who get A's and B's can be retained for not passing one test? Now you want to add to the importance of these test scores by basing teacher's pay on these same test scores?! Have you EVER been in a classroom before? And I don't mean on a little "let me pretend to care about education and read to a class for 5 minutes" PR tour. During your time on your local schoolboard, did you volunteer in the classrooms you were supposed to be looking out for? As a father, did you ever join your kids on a field trip? Did you ever just stop by their school and have lunch with them? Do you have any idea what goes on in the classroom on a daily basis? Do you know what these teachers have to deal with, especially nowadays? Parents are not involved. I am the PTO President at our school and we have 4 parents that come to the meetings. We have the same 3 parents who have chaperoned field trips since kindergarten and my kids are in 5th grade now. There is no parent involvement in the schools. That means everything is left up to the teachers. Most of our kids have no support at home either. We are a Title I school, and although we have an amazing group of faculty and staff, there are too many obstacles for them to overcome without help. There is no way for a teacher to ensure that a kid has dinner the night before FCAT, muchless breakfast. They can't ensure that the kid has a good night of sleep when some of our students are homeless. Now you want to use scores that these same kids get on a test to determine how their teachers should be compensated. These teachers are dealing with issues you will NEVER have to face as an attorney-turned legislator. You will never have to spend your own money to make sure your secretary can take notes. You will never have to buy toilet paper to make sure that your group of legislative aides can go to the bathroom. You will never have to get between staffers who are fighting because one staffer made fun of the fact that the other had holes in their shoes.
I am imploring you to really take a good look at what you are trying to do. Sometimes I think some people are so far removed from an issue that they really need to take another look at what is really going on. You need to spend a day in a school. Until you do, you have no idea what you are doing to our children. Florida's kids are already so behind, we don't need to place anymore hurdles in their way. By placing additional importance on these tests, you are guaranteeing a generation of 10-year-old ulcer patients.
Great letter! You can also get people to call, there should be a legislative hot line that will take messages, that way they can call, give info (once in the system they just have to give name with each subsequent call), and say NO on SB6. Simple. Takes two minutes. That way someone can call every day if they wish. I know that there was just a rally in the Capitol too, and Florida PTA was part of it! you should connect with them (if you haven't already) to see what their action plan is. GOOD WORK!
The only gift is a portion of thyself - Ralph Waldo Emerson
My Florida PTA peeps posted this message on facebook, and I'll reprint here for all of the momcongress peeps from Florida:
Please call or email Gov Charlie Crist, firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-488-7146 and ask him to veto SB6/HB7189. Passage would mean school districts must develop new standardized tests and that students in each county may be assessed differently, resulting in inequities in educational programs. This is only the tip ...of the iceberg. Your voice is needed to make a difference on behalf of all children.
For additional information on advocacy go to http://floridapta.org/
The only gift is a portion of thyself - Ralph Waldo Emerson