I just caught up with this piece in the Washington Post. It is beyond maddening.
Andrea Rediske’s 11-year-old son Ethan, is dying. Last year, Ethan, who was born with brain damage, has cerebral palsy and is blind, was forced to take a version of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test over the space of two weeks last year because the state of Florida required that every student take one. His mom has to prove that Ethan, now in a morphine coma, is in no condition to take another test this year.
Ethan wasn’t the only brain-damaged child in Florida to be forced to take a standardized test; I have written in the past about Michael, another Florida boy who was born with only a brain stem — not a brain — and can’t tell the difference between an apple and an orange, but was also forced to take a version of the FCAT last year. (See here, here and here.) There are many others in Florida and across the country as well.
What sadist could be clever enough to design something this stupid? Amazingly, some members of the Florida state legislature began to take notice of the absurdity and harassment of it all, and started to craft a law to create exemptions. They got a letter from the Federal Department of Education “warning lawmakers to keep assessing all children.” Warning how? Would the Feds release the ATF on the Florida Legislature? The law that was passed was anemic. Getting a waiver from the standardized test was a long and complicated endeavor.
And when you got a waiver for tests one year, you have to go through the process again for the next year. A recent letter written by Ethan’s mother is an example of what bureaucratic totalitarian insanity brings about.
Rick and Scott,
I’m writing to appeal for your advocacy on our behalf. Ethan is dying. He has been in hospice care for the past month. We are in the last days of his life. His loving and dedicated teacher, Jennifer Rose has been visiting him every day, bringing some love, peace, and light into these last days. How do we know that he knows that she is there? Because he opens his eyes and gives her a little smile. He is content and comforted after she leaves.
Jennifer is the greatest example of what a dedicated teacher should be. About a week ago, Jennifer hesitantly told me that the district required a medical update for continuation of the med waiver for the adapted FCAT. Apparently, my communication through her that he was in hospice wasn’t enough: they required a letter from the hospice company to say that he was dying. Every day that she comes to visit, she is required to do paperwork to document his “progress.” Seriously? Why is Ethan Rediske not meeting his 6th-grade hospital homebound curriculum requirements? BECAUSE HE IS IN A MORPHINE COMA. We expect him to go any day. He is tenaciously clinging to life.
This madness has got to stop. Please help us.
How did we get this way? It is completely toxic. And while this is an extreme situation, I’m not sure why the Federal Government is making states track students at all. Why is it the Federal Government’s business? Is it because they want students educated? But the students themselves and the parents have some input about whether or not a teacher can accomplish such a task. Unfavorable results may simply be a sign of what kind of home life students have. It may have nothing to do with any lack of teaching ability.
Again, why is this the business of the Federal Government?
Ethan has passed away; he is finally out of the clutches of school bureaucrats. He can rest in peace.