The bill on the table would let high school seniors who fail the FCAT still attend community college, and let English as a second language students who pass alternate tests still get a standard diploma. House Sponsor John Quinones says the bill is critical.
“It's very important because, you know, students who have a language barrier should not be penalized if they don't understand the substance of an exam.”
The governor has resisted every effort to east FCAT requirements, but even he got behind the bill after angry students and parents threatened to boycott Florida goods and businesses. Now the Senate is refusing to take up the bill. President Jim King says they don't like to be pressured.
“No one I don't think has any qualms about doing the bill. It's just that the Senate does not lend itself to immediacy. It does not like to be pushed and it does not like at the last minute to have a completely diverted change from direction A to direction B,” says King.
Vocal FCAT critic Frederica Wilson says the bill won't help enough students.
“Is it a slap in the face to the governor to not take it up? It's not a slap in the face. We have been going through this process for a while. If the governor wanted to really deal with this issue, it would have been on the agenda.”
The House and Senate have spent the entire spring at odds on many key issues, and it appears thousands of high school seniors hoping for some relief on FCAT requirements could be left caught in their political game.
As of late Tuesday, House members were still holding out hope the Senate would reconsider their decision and vote on the FCAT bill, but the Senate says it probably won't come up again until at least next month when the legislature returns for another special session on the medical malpractice insurance issue.