March 19, 2008

Florida ed policy and politics

The legislative session is in full swing (or a more colorful noun), and a bunch of things are in the air either in Tallahassee or elsewhere:

1. Both houses of the state legislature are considering bills to change the role of state testing (FCAT), either by adding other information to the labeling of high schools (the senate's approach) or by a compromise bill that discourages test-prep and sets more specific grade-level standards (the proposal in the house).

2. The ACLU sues Palm Beach County for its low high school graduation. Superintendent Art Johnson suggests it's the state's fault for not providing enough money (scroll down for "But the superintendent..."). (Disclosure: A 2006 paper of mine is mentioned in both stories.)

3. Something that wasn't covered in my local papers in January: Holmes County administrators have banned students from displaying anything related to gay pride. The ACLU of Florida sued. I suspect this one's a no-brainer in a bench trial: in the majority opinion in Morse v. Frederick, Chief Justice Roberts made a distinction between what he thought of as the political speech of Tinker and the display of "Bong Hits 4 Jesus."

The only interest the Court discerned underlying the school's actions [in Tinker] was the "mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint," or "an urgent wish to avoid the controversy which might result from the expression." Tinker, 393 U. S., at 509, 510. That interest was not enough to justify banning "a silent, passive expression of opinion, unaccompanied by any disorder or disturbance." Id., at 508.

I think that reasoning clearly applies in this case.

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on March 19, 2008 9:35 AM |