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Susan Lee County Makes History, Ops Out of Common Core Testing

Ohanian Comment: Now we wait for the corporate politicos to move in for the attack. 

e-mail your thanks to school members who voted for this historic act: 

Don Armstrong: 

Mary Fischer: 

Tom Scott: 

by Emily Atteberry

History was made today at the Lee County school board meeting. 

The school board has voted to opt out the entire district from all statewide, standardized testing -- effective immediately. The decision was received with overwhelming cheers and applause in the packed auditorium. 

The motion passed three to two, with board members Don Armstrong, Tom Scott and Mary Fischer in support of the vote. 

Board members Jeanne Dozier and Cathleen Morgan said they would prefer the district wait until an alternative plan is in place. Superintendent Nancy Graham warned the district that the abrupt decision could be harmful to students. 

There is an unmistakable emotion in the room tonight at the Lee school board meeting as the board deliberates a motion to opt out from all statewide tests. 

The standing-room only audience cheered and booed as more than 33 concerned citizens took the podium to speak their thoughts on the possibility of the district opting out of standardized tests. The audience was filled with protestors wearing red "#boycott shirts." 

The flood of red represented various activist groups in Lee County, including Teaching Not Testing, Florida Citizens' Alliance and the Libertarian Party of Florida. 

Because 33 people requested to give public comment tonight, each speaker only has one minute to voice their thoughts. 

Julia Kay, 17, addresses the school board about her experiences with the FCAT. 

Chairman Tom Scott reminded the audience that school board policy prohibits booing, cheering and clapping. The audience, at times, could not help itself as citizens gave impassioned one-minute speeches. 

Emotions came to a head when mother Lori Jenkins took the stand. She said her son has a terminal heart condition and was at home on a leave from school, yet the district still sent someone to proctor his exam at his home on his deathbed. The audience gasped with disgust. 

"He's terminal, he's going to die, but he goes to school! He does the stupid remedial classes!" Jenkins yelled. The audio was cut off when she hit her one-minute limit. She continued to yell into the mic as the audience called for the board to let her speak. Jenkins received a standing ovation. 

Coral Brennan, a seven-year-old, told board members that she was led to believe she couldn't read because she got a dismal score on her FCAT. Her speech was met with a round of applause. 

"I felt like I had failed because most tests I get like a 99 or 98," Coral Brennan, 7, told the News-Press before the meeting. 

Before the meeting, a handful of activists meet in the parking lot with signs, chanting "hi ho tests must go." 

Protestors were a mix of political activists and education advocates. 

Matt Worley, the director at-large for the Florida Libertarian Party, said he was attending the meeting to stand up for citizens' liberties. 

"According to the Constitution, the school board has every right to opt us out," he said. "If the kids are smart enough to only push buttons, this country is doomed."

— Emily Atteberry
News Press
August 27, 2014


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    Susan Ohanian

    Susan Ohanian, a long-time public school teacher, is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Atlantic, Parents, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Phi Del...