Speaking of the “Florida Miracle” . . .

by David Safier

I just posted about how the country was hoodwinked into believing in the "Texas Miracle" in education and ended up with ex-Texas Governor Bush's version of No Child Left Behind and our obsession with testing. Toward the end of the post, I mentioned how Arizona is behing hoodwinked into believing in the "Florida Miracle."

Not ten minutes later, I read an article in the Payson Roundup about Goldwater Institute's Matthew Ladner (Aren't you supposed to be working with Jeb Bush these days, Matthew?) talking once again about the Florida Miracle.

In a meeting with the paper's editorial board and community leaders, Ladner talked about his favorite subject: Florida reading scores.

Ladner said that fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores rose dramatically in Florida between 2003 and 2009 — about four times as much as in Arizona.

Florida’s gains were especially pronounced among Hispanic and minority students, he said.

Reporter Pete Aleshire has done his homework and put Ladner's propaganda into perspective, reminding the reader that Florida holds its poorest readers in the third grade for an extra year.

Some researchers have said they suspect the huge increase in retentions in the third grade had a big impact on the rise in fourth-grade reading scores.

In fact, the retentions are a huge factor in the rising scores. As someone put it, if you hold back the shortest third graders for a year, they'll be a year older and taller when they reach the fourth grade, so the average height will take a big jump. Florida's retention program has a similar effect on test scores.

Aleshire also mentions Florida increased its funding for education and lowered class sizes. Arizona has cut ed funding and raised class size.

Oh, and Florida put in a program of tutoring for poor readers in the early grades. No chance of that happening here anytime in the near future.

The article has Ladner explaining away all these little details — more like dancing around them by ignoring the problems and going into his carefully rehearsed song-and-dance. And the Floridation of Arizona continues, courtesy of Jeb Bush's chief propagandist, Matthew Ladner.

In case you haven't made the connection:

  • George Bush. "Texas Miracle." No Child Left Behind. Test 'til you drop.
  • Jeb Bush. "Florida Miracle." Arizona adopts parts of the Florida plan.

The Bush boys have been very busy "reforming" our education. To remind you from my earlier post, Diane Ravitch said this about our current ed reform movement:

"The singular feature of education reform in the 21st century is a willing suspension of disbelief."

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