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Sunday, October 4, 2015

A letter to Helen Lancashire of the Florida Department of Education...

Thank you for calling me.  Our conversation was enlightening. You have confirmed for me that my daughter who currently maintains a 3.8 weighted GPA; who has completed almost 200 hours of community service; who may be eligible for the Gold Seal Vocational Florida Bright Futures scholarship (which by the way would save my hardworking middle class family thousands of dollars); who wants (and deserves) to go to college and become an early childhood teacher; who works with special needs children; who, I am told by her teachers, is made for that work....and who was selected to work with a four year old mute boy name Jason because she is patient and kind and loving (and spirited and challenging at home!) won't get to do any of that because she's not achieved a standardized test score.

Your recommendations--please indulge me a moment of respectful impatience--that I and others consult and devise and "drill down" and remediate just exasperate me!  Lana has a rich and wonderfully full life that includes a balance of academics and activities. She's got "Bs" in almost all of her honors classes. She goes to school every day from 0720-1420. She comes home after full days of learning and test prep and walks the neighbor's dog.  She and he play frizz bee.  That dog loves that girl. After that and dinner, she does homework.  

Lana also spins, twirls, and throws rifles and flags for her school's band.  She's the star bowler on the bowling team.   That's an already really full apple cart I do not want to mess with--especially with even more test prep activities!

There are, so you will know, only three counselors at her school of more than 2000 students.  Because they are free of classroom duties--and because someone certified must proctor--they are all already proctoring your tests.  Algebra retakes and upcoming FSA retakes.  They most certainly are NOT available for in depth consultation for my daughter.  That, I want to emphasize, is not their or their principal's fault.  Theirs are just the warm (and certified) proctor bodies the principal needs in the testing labs.

You asked about pinpointing Lana's reading weaknesses.  Maybe she really doesn't have any.  Maybe her Honors English "Bs" indicate that she's a solid reader. Maybe she's bored out of her mind with testing, and testing prep, and reading prompts and passages. 

I feel I am "going it alone..."  I do not feel the state of Florida really and truly wants to help.  I think the state is ready to shrug its "stately" shoulders and whisper, "Oh well, another one bites the dust...."

It all saddens me so much.  How in the world can anyone, anywhere defend sending almost 150,000 young people who've worked hard and done everything you asked of them--except pass a test--out into the world without a high school diploma?

Thank you again for our conversation.
9:48 am edt          Comments

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Click here for my district's bullying and harassment policy. You will see I have made comments....