Florida official: All kids can learn regardless of race or background

January 25, 2013

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Trevor was website administrator for EAG from December 2012 to March 2014.
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By Ben Velderman
EAGnews.org

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – First the first time ever, Florida teachers are having a portion of their classroom evaluation tied to the math and reading gains their students make over the course of a school year.

superheroPredictably, the teacher unions have kicked up a fuss over the practice because it takes into account learning gains without regard to a student’s race, ethnicity, gender or socio-economic status.

On Thursday, a top state education official presented research to a House education subcommittee that showed “students’ race and socio-economic status have no correlation with their teachers’ performance,” reports the Associated Press.

“Those things don’t seem to matter,” Deputy Chancellor for Educator Quality Kathy Hebda told the lawmakers. “You can’t tell a teacher’s classroom by the way the value-added scores turned out whether she had zero percent students on free and reduced price lunch or 100 percent.”

In plain English, the research shows that effective teachers can help almost any student learn, regardless of background.

One Democratic lawmaker refuted the findings.

“You can’t deny the difference between a child who comes from a home where the parents are able to help that child with their learning, or if they provide tutoring or other enrichment activities, versus a child who goes home and doesn’t know where they’re going to stay that night,” said Rep. Karen Castor, according to the AP.

Hebda explained that the new teacher evaluation model accounts for those differences and stood by her conclusions.

It’s revealing that public school apologists are quick to highlight the differences in ability and ambition that students bring to the classroom, because they don’t want teachers to be held accountable when some students fail.

Yet they refuse to acknowledge differences in talent, intelligence and motivation among teachers. That would undercut the sacred union ideal of equality among teachers, which makes seniority seem like a legitimate criteria for compensation and job security.

Fortunately for families and taxpayers, Florida’s schools are currently being managed by individuals who can see through the union’s self-serving logic.

Rep. Dennis Baxley spoke for many of these individuals when he defended the new evaluation system during Thursday’s subcommittee meeting.

“Those who say it can’t be done need to get out of the way of those who are doing it,” Baxley said.

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