Kelly Moore: School grades are degrading

Published: Monday, July 8, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 5, 2013 at 10:54 p.m.

As I write this, school superintendents from around Florida are meeting with the Florida Department of Education to voice their concerns over the formula used to calculate school grades.

This formula has been tweaked to death to show the exact results the reigning politicians want to see. Senate President Don Gaetz said it best, "If you have a ‘C' school, 90 percent of the teachers in a ‘C' school can't be highly effective. That doesn't make sense."

Tying school grades and teacher performance was never supposed to happen. But it is now what politicians and charter-school companies want to see.

They want to have more failing schools with teachers that are evaluated as ineffective so they can finally convince everyone that the parent trigger bill will solve everything. Just as Republicans are calling for the end of adequate yearly progress in evaluating schools because it is a federal (and impossible) mandate, they now have developed their own state system to create unfair hurdles for some schools and teachers to overcome.

If this is a fair and effective system, then why are schools the only public entities that receive grades? Where is the movement to grade hospitals? Or municipalities, fire and police departments, prisons or politicians?

How hard would it be to design a system for Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell or Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy to jump through forever-changing hoops in order to receive a letter grade that would sway public opinion about the city or police department? That would be a useful way for them to spend their time and taxpayer money, right?

No, of course not. We only make schools face the humility of being publicly labeled with an "F.".

Here is my proposal. Why doesn't Alachua County just reject these idiotic grades and recognize them for what they are — an unfair system of humiliation intended to demoralize and degrade public education in this state and turn over taxpayer money to charters and vouchers? The School Board must comply with the grading system but citizens of Alachua County can start a revolution!

I call on Alachua County Commission Chairman Mike Byerly and the commission to pass a resolution condemning these grades and refusing to acknowledge any relevance of these grades in our community.

Alachua County schools are all in this together. If we stand up for our schools, we can find solutions to help schools and communities solve the very real social problems they face that hinder progress and success.

We are one of the few counties in this state that actually voted to tax ourselves to support our local schools — so let's stand up for them now and say: "All schools in Alachua County are A+ schools!"

Kelly Moore is an educator and a parent in Gainesville.

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