Perhaps in anticipation of the modern demands of adulthood, filling out paperwork standardized testing in schools is all the rage these days. Thanks in part to a federal cattle-prod–carrot-stick educational policy, teachers are spending more and more time preparing students for state tests. One Florida kindergarten teacher has boldly, if quixotically, decided to put her foot down.
Twenty-six–year veteran teacher Susan Bowles of Lawton Chiles Elementary School in Gainesville, Florida, recently posted a letter on Facebook to the parents of her students, declaring that she would no longer administer the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR) test. She writes that her decision is "an act of civil disobedience" and that she is "hoping for government change in policy regarding testing."
Per the Florida Department of Education, teachers for kindergarten through the second grade must administer the FAIR test three times per school year, among other required assessments. Bowles estimates that preparing students and administering the FAIR test alone will consume six weeks of valuable class time. And while she is not against assessments per se, Bowles argues that the FAIR test is "taking away hours and hours of instructional time" without providing any information to teachers "significantly superior to what a typical kindergarten teacher would observe in her students."
Her refusal to administer the test comes at a steep price, however: She faces the distinct possibility of losing her job for breach of contract. Bowles acknowledges that her stand might just be a moot martyrdom if she is simply replaced by another teacher willing to administer the test in her stead. Indeed, as The Gainesville Sun reports, the principal has already taken over the testing of Bowles' students.
But Bowles' stand fdoes highlight the growing opposition to the standardization of education and to the current gristmill model of public schooling. A model of schooling which, by all metrics, commands an ever heftier fee for little to no improvement in student performance.