Angry legislators and religious leaders say Gov. Jeb Bush should use this week's special legislative session to help the state's 43,000 failing third-graders. They want the governor to extend the call of the session to include a bill that would let 3rd graders who failed the FCAT still advance to 4th grade, with teachers' and parents' approval. Critics say holding thousands of kids back will just make life harder for them.
Thousands of children who failed their 3rd grade FCAT this year are going to summer reading camps as their only hope of advancing to 4th grade.
Sen. Frederica Wilson says since schools will now be trying to bring each struggling third-grader up to speed, why not just do it in 4th grade instead of branding them as failures?
“Sure, there are some children who should be retained, and sure, that should be a parent's decision along with the schools, not a computer-generated FCAT high-stakes test,” says Sen. Wilson.
Wilson is filing a bill that would let parents decide with teachers whether a child should be held back. She wants Jeb Bush to extend the call of this week's special session to include the bill.
Many legislators are reluctant to add anything to their plates this week, and the state department of education says its already addressed many of those concerns.
Wilson claims a 10-year-old DOE study shows holding kids back doesn't work. The department says it has no record of the study, and spokeswoman Frances Marine says modern educators know better now.
“Once a child moves into 4th grade, the passages get more complex, the subject areas in terms of science and social studies get more complicated, and if a child is not reading independently, they're going to fall farther and farther behind,” says Marine.
But legislators and religious leaders are not satisfied, and are pledging to push ahead with a boycott of Florida businesses and products unless the governor changes his mind.
Members of the Florida general Baptist convention pledged their support in Tallahassee Wednesday for the proposed boycott of Florida theme parks unless the governor declares a moratorium on the FCAT.