Florida School District Is First in the State to Ditch Standardized Testing

A Florida school district voted Wednesday to become the first in the state to opt out of the Florida’s standardized testing, the Florida News-Press reported.

Board member Don Armstrong, a longtime opponent of Common Core and testing, looks on after he voted to opt out of state mandated testing during a board meeting at the Lee County School District on Aug. 27, 2014, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/ Naples Daily News, Dania Maxwell)

The Lee County Board of Education voted 3-2 to ditch state standardized testing, despite the objections of the superintendent.

“Sometimes it takes an act of civil disobedience to move forward,” board member Don Armstrong said, according to the newspaper. “We cannot allow the fear to hold us back.”

Board attorney Keith Martin said it’s possible Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) could remove the board members for taking the action.

Armstrong responded: “Go ahead and remove me from my position. I’m a plumber. I deal with worse things every day.”

The board’s decision was cheered loudly in the packed auditorium, with many meeting attendees wearing red in solidarity, according to the newspaper. Most in attendance were parents, along with representatives from the Florida Citizens’ Alliance and the Libertarian Party of Florida.

State Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, who attended the meeting, cautioned the board.

“I came here to listen and learn today primarily,” Fitzenhagen said, before prompting boos from the audience. “I’m all about bold, innovative thinking. But at the same time, I don’t want us to do something without a plan in place. Testing is high stakes, life is high stakes.”

More than 33 people spoke at the school board meeting, according to the newspaper, and the overwhelming sentiment was for ditching the tests.

Superintendent Nancy Graham, who was also booed, said the decision “will hurt children.”

“There is no way around it,” Graham said. “I am gravely concerned about the decision that was made tonight, and I’ll try to make sense of this.”

Lori Jenkins, the mother of a boy with a terminal heart condition, said her son was on leave from school, but that someone was still sent to the family’s home to administer the test to her son.

“He’s terminal, he’s going to die, but he goes to school! He does the stupid remedial classes,” Jenkins said. “That’s how I know this is all about money.”

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