Marc Yacht: We ruin public schools by withholding money, imposing demands

Lee County must be commended for the courage to “just say no” to high-stakes testing.  Last week, the Lee County School Board voted to end all state-required testing in the county’s public schools.

They have had enough with the Common Core agenda pushed by computer corporations and the Gates Foundation.

It is rare that liberals and hard-core conservatives can find common ground but Common Core, Florida Core, and high-stakes testing have done that.

Although the justifications to abort this new educational boondoggle may differ, the consensus grassroots cry is that testing must go. The momentum to end Common Core, standardized testing, the abuse of teachers and children has reached a crescendo.

The old saying that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” may bode well for liberals and conservatives with the realization that teachers don’t need cookbooks and high-stakes testing to teach the children they have come to know and love.

The defenders of Common Core and testing are still bleating it’s the law.  But I am afraid if those folks were around in the mid 1700s, we might still be a British Colony.  Simply stated, bad laws, rules and policies must be changed or disobeyed if all else fails.  Yes, we are a nation of laws but we expect just laws and must respond accordingly to poor ones.  The Declaration of Independence resulted from such actions.  That is what makes America great!

Mauling public education with too little money and misguided policy will not help America’s children nor will the grab of public school dollars for churched-based education and politically protected charter schools help improve student progress.

Lee County must be given five stars for saying “enough is enough.” Other counties that whine about worries of accreditation and funding are simply cowards. They are not willing to stand against wrongheaded directions pushed more by well endowed corporations than educators.  Those at the top of the educational heap who have supported these directions have simply been bought off and they know it.

I am reminded of the flawed arguments sold to the American people that allowed the dismantling of our state mental health system.  The repercussions are felt in every community today where the mentally ill roam the streets with few alternatives for care. Tragedy and mayhem have resulted.   Have we saved money?

I do not agree that Common Core or high stakes testing is a federal plot to control children or make them “gay.” However, it is a poorly devised policy bought and paid for by a well meaning Gates Foundation.  No one is a greater fan of Bill Gates than I am, but he got this one wrong.

If this nation wants to see student progress, it simply needs to provide public education with enough money so that well trained teachers can do their job. I am not saying we should throw out the educational plan.  I am saying that it must be flexible.

I have seen this cookbook mentality creep into medical management.  Folks, the same size will not fit all.  What are charter schools but efforts to circumvent the rules and push tax dollars to faith based institutions?

Politicians are masters at sleight of hand.  Underfund schools, set up impossible criteria and then complain when schools fail to meet those criteria.  I saw this in other areas of Florida government during Jeb Bush’s administration and brought to new heights with Gov. Rick Scott.

People love to hear “no new taxes” but frankly that mentality has given us the mess we have in education, community infrastructure, and health care.  Our communities are starving for resources; the fat is gone.

Schools boards must stand up, whatever the cost, to protect public schools in Florida and across the nation.  There is no alternative.  But then, we could start waving a British flag!

Dr. Marc Yacht MD, MPH is a semi-retired physician living in Hudson, Florida. The column is courtesy of Context Florida.

Marc Yacht



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