On Monday, the Tampa Bay Times ran the following headline: Florida Board of Education calls emergency meeting as FCAT scores tank.
I began writing this blog about a year ago. After a feverish start, my fervor tapered off over the last few months. I could blame the crazy schedule I have in and out of school, but the truth is, for a while, I had taken a defeatist attitude. I was beginning to think that not only did no one care what I was writing, something far worse was happening...no one cared what was happening to education.
Monday's headline shocked me back into action. I truly believe we are witnessing the systematic destruction of public education at the hands of politicians and an ignorant public who believe everything - including all government services - is better suited in the hands of greedy, private entities.
Here is how it is being accomplished:
Step 1: Bash teachers and attack their unions in the media under the guise of public accountability.
Step 2: Cut funding, placing even more pressure on an already "overtaxed" (pun intended) system.
Step 3: Demand higher student performance AND tie teacher evaluations and pay to that performance.
Step 4: Increase the level of achievement and/or mastery on all state assessments (while behind closed doors you increase funding opportunities to private and charter schools who don't have to meet the same standards) while implementing End of Course examinations and cutting funding to after school and enrichment programs.
Step 5: Exhibit shock and outrage at declining scores. Conduct "emergency meetings" to place blame - on teachers, of course! (See Monday's story in the Tampa Bay Times)
(Steps 6 - 9 have not been fully implemented yet)
Step 6: Eliminate tenure and right to collective bargaining (achieved during last year's legislative session). Turn money-sucking schools and their incompetent teachers over to private entities to "fix" the problems (because everyone knows businesses can fix everything - see Enron).
Step 7: Accept with a pat on the back (or a kick in the ass) the resignation of veteran teachers (who make too much money and are "suckling on the teat of taxpayers") who have committed their lives to helping kids. Hire a slew of college grads (at a reduced salary) who teach for three years before abandoning the "assembly-line" approach to teaching that cares more about the product (test scores and dollars saved) than the students they are suppose to be educating.
Step 8: Blame the "mess" left behind on the retired teachers (who are now collecting retirement benefits that the system can no long afford to fund because funds have been bankrupted by the "companies" that are running the schools) and demand even more accountability.
Step 9: Repeat Steps 1 - 8.
While some of this blog was written tongue-in-cheek, all of what I have written about has either already happened or is in the process of happening - not just in the State of Florida but around the country. While I have never truly had a political agenda (supporting one party over another) in writing this blog, I do have a warning - for everyone. If we don't do something soon, if we don't get vocal, if we don't speak with our mouths, words and vote, we are as much to blame as the politicians, for we will have become that ignorant public. This is a test, and we are failing it. More important, we are failing our children - in more ways than one.