Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

FCAT week full of importance – for Florida politicians

This past week has been the biggest week in Florida public education in recorded history.

When just about everything depends on kids’ performance on the dreaded Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, aka the “Eff-cat,” you can be sure that anybody in education, from the janitors to the governor, will be looking to take the credit if “scores go up,” and blame the teachers if “scores go down.”

I suppose the most hilarious statement of all came from a spokes-moron for someone in former Gov. Jeb Bush’s latest education reform scam, when it said that “we care about the children.”

Gov. Rick Scott says he cares about the children, too. He cares so much, he’s trying to destroy the education system in Florida, rid the state of its unionized teachers and voucherize everything to the Xian schools.

As I was driving to the library in Gainesville, I passed a few public schools and saw that one had a sign asking for quiet because of the FCAT testing.

I suppose the people who will be gnawing their fingernails to the bone in the months until the tests are graded – if they are graded – will be local elected officials, and not kids, their parents or their teachers. This test decides if county commissioners become state legislators, if state legislators become congressmen, if congressmen become senators and if a senator has a shot at being a governor, or even the president.

Every ward heeler sees school test scores as either something to run on, or to blame on someone else.

Ever since I worked on the campaign of a guy at Florida Atlantic University who was running for State House, I knew that running for office involved a certain degree of artifice. Thus, a photograph of the candidate in a classroom (with small desks, a blackboard and a child (preferably a black child) nearby, while the candidate looks like he’s listening) could serve as a symbol that – unlike everyone else out there – he’s for education.

Suckering the news media into showing up at a school so the candidate or incumbent can read to children and get taped and photographed doing so is what separates the hacks from the winners in this world.

I feel sorry for the kids. They’re just trying to get through the day, and here are all these adults, almost none of whom really has any interest or concern for them, acting like they care. At least those of us outside education know the truth, and many inside education know the politicians and candidates couldn’t care less about education, but appearing to care is the name of the game.

So long as the kids lose, no one really cares about them. It’s winning elections that matters, and the way to do that is to push testing like the FCAT, and pretend that it matters.


April 15, 2011 Posted by | Education, Living in the modern age, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment