Each month I DISHONOR an individual, team, program, school, or piece of legislation that I believe is (or has been) detrimental to the welfare of kids. I welcome your nomination for this discredit, and will consider thoughtfully any name(s) you propose. Please use the "Contact" link if you choose to nominate someone. Remember to explain why you believe your nominee deserves to be shamed, and let me know how I can contact you for verification. Your name will NOT be revealed — anyplace, ever. The buck stops with me. Ouch.
Michael, a nine-year old Florida resident, was born with a brain stem but not a complete brain. He is blind, cannot talk or walk, and does not understand basic information. But…young Michael was recently forced to take an alternative version of the standardized Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).
Shortly after birth Michael came into the care of Judy Harris, a woman who owns and operates the Russell House, an Orlando care facility for seriously disabled children. Because the facility is under school board jurisdiction it is subject to the same rules and regulations as other schools, including the requirement that every child must take some version of the FCAT.
According to an Orlando News 13 story [11-04-13], Michael is seen by a teacher for one hour two times a week. It is not "schooling" per se, due to the child's limitations, but rather gentle stimulation from an outside source.
"Michael enjoys listening to music and he loves to hear people talk to him," says Harris, but he does not understand even the simplest concepts. Imagine Harris's shock when she was told two months ago that Michael would have to "take" a standardized assessment test similar to the FCAT. But, a rule is a rule and in Florida the rule says tests must be taken — even when there is no reas for it. Disgusting? Absolutely. Inhumane? I think so.
Florida State Representative Linda Stewart reportedly tried to get officials in the Education Department to step in to stop the charade of Michael taking a test, but she was unsuccessful. "Nobody wanted to take the responsibility of stopping it," Stewart said.
Orange County, Florida, school board member Rick Roach confirmed the fact that Michael was forced to take the test — in a manner of speaking. In reality, a state employee sat down and read it to the child, but left the responses blank because (as mentioned earlier) Michael cannot talk. Now you tell me how much good that kind of assessment is.
But wait...Michael DOES enjoy hearing people's voices. Maybe the whole ordeal wasn't so bad after all. Forget it. I'm kidding. One Florida reader summed it this way. "This is what you get when people like Jeb Bush, Chris Cerf, Eli Broad, and Bill Gates are allowed to call each other experts on Education."
I'm glad someone in Florida "gets it." I think that reader could teach the Dept. of Education a thing or two — or maybe three: When to test and when not to test, Common sense, and Compassion. That would do for starters.
Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com