UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who made calls! Senator Flores’ SB926 was successfully amended to both remove the harmful proficiency language and incorporate many of Senator Montford’s common sense accountability reforms!

Tallahassee legislators are being given the chance to vote for two distinct education accountability bills this session.

One, SB964, is sponsored by a bipartisan group of Senators, led by Senators Montford and Lee. SB964 eliminates the 9th grade FSA and all but two of the current state End of Course exams, allows districts to use the SAT or ACT in place of FSA testing, eliminates VAM (returning teacher evaluation decisions to the local level) and allows paper and pencil testing for students, providing welcome relief from the current test and punish system. For public school advocates, SB964 is a good bill. We need to support it.

The other bill, SB926, called the “Fewer, Better Tests” bill, was written by Jeb Bush’s Foundation and is sponsored by our Senator Anitere Flores. Sadly, SB926 does NOT eliminate ANY tests but will raise the score required to pass the state assessments to a level ABOVE GRADE LEVEL, which will lead to a drop in the passing rate, for the test required for graduation, from 51% to an estimated 39%. SB964 will have devastating effects on our public schools. The difference between bills is crystal clear.

SB926 hastens the move towards the privatization of public education in Florida:

Jeb’s bill, SB926, would raise the bar well beyond simple “on grade level” expectations, causing more students and schools to be declared failures (for the exact same performance which would have labeled them successful previously), and ALSO calls for more detailed score reports, clearly outlining to parents precisely how their public school is (now) “failing” their children. At the same time Jeb’s legislators are expanding the state’s voucher program (HB15, SB902, SB1314), encouraging more students to leave their (now) “failing” public schools for private schools, AND breaking down the walls between church and state, with “Religious Expression” bills like SB436, paving the way for a clear path for vouchers to private religious schools, which is the ultimate goal of our new U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, who (surprise!) has served on Jeb’s Foundation board for years and is a major funder of the advocacy efforts of Step Up For Students, Florida’s voucher program. SB926 hastens the move towards the privatization of public education in Florida.

Betsy and Jeb’s efforts this session make it obvious that their goal is the complete destruction of public education as we know it. SB926, and its proficiency language, must be stopped.

TAKE ACTION: Call Senator FloresTallahassee (850) 4875039, Miami (305) 2224117) and ask her to remove the proficiency language from SB926.


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