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Mitch Perry Report for 4.3.15 – Does the Florida House agree there's too much "damn testing" going on?

Happy Passover/Good Friday to everyone.

I don’t think about it often, but a quasi-holiday like today makes me sympathetic to all those in media land who have to produce a full television or radio broadcast on a day that doesn’t portend to contain a lot of news, at least not domestically. When I was producing an hour-long radio broadcast, this would be a trying time, when you’d load up getting folks who would answer the phone to give commentary on the week’s events. No doubt the U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement will dominate national news coverage today, tomorrow and into next week.

But since I’m not producing a broadcast, how ’bout we reflect on some of the comments made yesterday in the Florida Senate regarding high-stakes testing? Specifically, the comment that’s getting a lot of play in blogs this morning is Brandon Republican Tom Lee’s denunciation of the testing that’s been going on in the Sunshine State for over a decade now.

“I’m done with the testing program in the state of Florida,” said Lee, the chairman of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee. “I’m done with the accountability system. Whoever those people are out there from whatever foundation they may be from, whatever testing groups they may be supporting: I’m over you. You’ve lost my confidence. And the reason you’ve lost my confidence is because I’ve got emails from you last night that said that you’re so married to this system that you don’t have a shred of common sense left.”

You also had Republican Alan Hays from Umatilla saying,“It is sad that today, many of our teachers and even administrators are simply waiting to earn their retirement checks because our well-intentioned but misguided policies have taken the joy out of teaching.”

As reported by Brandon Larrabee, the Senate proposal would put on hold the use of student test data for school grades, teacher evaluations and student promotion to fourth grade until the new Florida Standards Assessments can be independently validated

The Senate would also scrap a law requiring school districts to come up with end-of-course tests in classes where the state doesn’t administer such exams; cap at 5 percent the share of students’ time that can be spent on testing; and reduce from 50 percent to a third the portion of a teacher’s evaluation tied to student performance.

So what’s Steve Crisafulli and the House going to do about it? You may recall he said earlier this year that “We will not retreat from accountability.”

Well, something’s going to have to give in the next month – hopefully.

In other news..

In what critics are calling Florida’s own version of Indiana’s Religious Restoration Freedom Act, the Florida House Judiciary Committee passed an adoption bill yesterday that allows for private adoption agencies to  to refuse child placements with gay couples.

With the women’s Final Four in town this weekend, Mayor Bob Buckhorn wrote to NCAA head Mark Emmert yesterday and ask that the organization go ahead and name Tampa to host for 2016 as well, since Indiana has recently passed their RRFA. Alas, the NCAA released a statement saying that they’re pleased with changes that Indiana has made with the law, and it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere soon (Their corporate headquarters are located in Indianapolis).

The Republican National Committee vowed yesterday to unleash the most intense opposition campaign to Hillary Clinton once she declares her candidacy for president.

And speaking of that other legacy candidate , Jeb Bush? His poll numbers ain’t all that impressive, though obviously he’ll blow the field out when first quarter PAC numbers are released later this month.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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