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For years, school boards have been telling parents how much they sympathized and empathized with us, as we have pleaded and protested to make a year of school count for more than one test.  There are districts doing right by the children and promoting them, as the law specifies. However, immediately following Judge Gievers’ ruling last Friday, effectively “untying the hands” of all school districts in Florida to do as parents have requested and use a portfolio assessment (not the same as the state’s portfolio test bank), Orange and Hernando Counties filed their already prepared appeals. It’s clear now, that the boards’ chants of, “Our hands are tied” were just excuses to not do better. Sadly, yesterday, Broward and Seminole Counties followed suit, in defiance of the judge’s orders.

In response to the districts’ motions for appeal, this “Open Letter to Florida School Boards” was penned by parent activist, Jinia Parker of Pinellas County. We couldn’t have said it better and we are sharing it here with permission:

Dear Florida School Boards,

Parents, educators and activists have reached out to you for years, asking for your help and guidance. Again and again we got the same messages.

“Our hands are tied.”
“We must follow the law.”
“We wish we could do things differently, but…”

The order issued last week by a Florida Court finally freed those hands completely as the judge’s order made it clear that the districts had not been following the law (as directed by the purposely absent hand of the FLDOE).

I waited for the celebration from the districts. Finally! Those hands were freed and with them, so too, our kids. Finally! School boards were free to follow the statutes plain language AND with the support of the court. Finally! You could authorize superintendents and principals to promote all those proficient students to fourth grade, saving tax dollars & reducing the harm already done to them under your authority. Finally! School boards could recognize, as it was demonstrated plainly in court, that the FLDOE does not have your back. Finally! The focus of school districts would be our students, not serving the illegal mandates of the FLDOE.

That isn’t what happened.

First, Orange County Public Schools appealed the judge’s ruling, followed by Hernando, Broward, and sadly, Seminole Counties. The FLDOE’s appeal is expected, but I’d rather the districts hadn’t raced them to do so.  Though it shows us who is who.

This speaks volumes about those districts, demanding free hands to continue harm against students. If you think parents won’t be aware, you are wrong. I believe the impeachment of any elected official, seeking to continue harm to children by refusing to follow a court order is not only appropriate, but the only appropriate action. I’m asking that they resign right now. I have little hope of that, given the complete lack of honor with which these districts (and therefore school Boards) have approached the last school year (and more) on this subject.

I will not accept “our hands are tied” ever again. Throughout history, “I was following orders” has been the excuse of cowards and those who lack honor.

I’m not asking for anything extraordinary. I am asking that school boards in Florida do the right thing.

These families, including children, chose to be honorable and brave. You should try it.

Out of patience,

Jinia Parker

Use #180DaysCount
Tweetable link: bit.ly/Ltr2FLSB