FSCCC Releases Point by Point Response to Legal Memo Used to Bully Lee Board & Deceive Public

September, 2014

The legal memo by Lee County School Board attorney Keith Martin was the basis for creating so much hysteria and panic about the consequences for the county opting out of state tests, that Board Member Fischer panicked and called for an emergency meeting to rescind her vote without really looking at the alternatives already provided in statute. Sadly, the memo did not mention any of these alternatives and was therefore highly misleading and deceptive.  Even more sad, is the possibility that other Florida school boards will refrain from exercizing their rights based on incorrect or incomplete information such as this.

Dr. Karen Effrem has produced a point-by-point refutation of that memo that is now available for review.  Here are the summary points:

  1. Graduation Issues Alternatives to the federally and state mandated tests and end of course exams already exist in statute that would legally allow graduation with a standard diploma.
  2. Course Credits Involving End of Course Exams There are also alternatives listed in statute that allow students or the county to opt out of these exams as well and still receive the credit in courses where 30% of the grade is based on these exams.
  3. Third Grade Retention - Florida statute and State Board of Education rule allow third grade students to submit a portfolio or take alternative assessments to avoid mandatory retention.
  4. Opportunity Scholarships These are based on the school grading system which in turn is based on the state tests, for which there exist alternatives.  Additionally, with the school grading system in chaos with severe questions about its validity and reliability, the assessments not being counted toward school grades for at least another year and the Florida School Boards Association asking for longer, and very few schools in Lee County meeting the qualifications outlined in statute to qualify for their students to receive opportunity scholarships, a reasonable alternative could easily be developed in policy, rule or legislation.
  5. Special Education Funding Alternative assessment possibilities exist in both federal and state statute.
  6. Effects on Teachers and Principals The same alternatives available in statute and the same problems with the school grading system described above for students answer the concerns for employees
  7. Federal No Child Left Behind Funding & Waivers Besides being a major violation of the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; provisions of both No Child Left Behind and the waivers are selectively and arbitrarily enforced, the conditional waivers are illegal and the incentivizing of Common Core and the federal assessments through the waivers and Race to the Top are in violation of three federal statutes.
  8. State Funding It is not very likely that elected legislators who face constituents seeking relief from the out-of-control testing will sanction other elected officials who are following the Constitutions and listening to their constituents if the appointed State Board refers incomplete and biased information to the legislature about non-compliance.  There are legal, constitutional and political reasons why the State Board of Education would be in error for withholding money from Lee County or any other district that asserts their local autonomy and listens to their constituents.
  9. Constitutional and Statutory Violations of Current Testing System These are outlined in our paper, Constitutional and Statutory Violations of Current State and Federally Mandated Student Assessment Program.  These include violations of the Fourth and Tenth Amendments to the US Constitution and Article IX, Section 4(b) of the Florida Constitution; violation of the federal General Education Provisions Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the Department of Education Organization Act, all of which violate state and local control of educational programs; and violation of Florida statutes regarding implementation of the testing system, technological load testing, and prohibition on practicing psychology or school psychology without a license.
The entire document is available HERE.  Please show this to your own school board members and legislators and tell them that despite today's vote to rescind, there is still very good reason to consider opting out.


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