Citizens for Strong Schools supporters:

I know it's been some time since Citizens for Strong Schools last sent out a message, but with all the public attention on testing, school accountability, funding and other issues, we thought this would be a good time to bring you up to speed on a couple of items.

As you probably heard in the media, the refusal of local teacher Susan Bowles to give one of the state's many standardized tests has sparked a statewide, even national debate. Just last night the School Board voted on a resolution asking state leaders to slow down and rethink all the testing and other mandates they've adopted in recent years. Many other Florida districts have passed similar resolutions. You can read it Here.

A couple of big events are coming up in the next week or so that you might be interested in attending. The first is a parent/teacher rally being organized by the Alachua County Education Association called the "I Am More than a Test Score Rally." Our new superintendent Dr. Owen Roberts, Ms. Bowles and other folks will be talking about the impact of standardized testing on education and what citizens can do about it. The rally is set for Tuesday, October 28 at 5 p.m. at Westside Park.

The next evening will be a free public screening of the documentary Rise Above the Mark, which highlights the push for reforms like more standardized tests and new standards, and what it means for our schools and students. Dr. Roberts will speak there as well, and there will also be comments from the League of Women Voters and Southern Legal Counsel. The screening will be Wednesday, October 29 at 6 p.m. in Buchholz High School's auditorium. (5510 NW 27th Avenue).

And speaking of the Southern Legal Counsel, the case it filed against the state for its failure to properly support public education continues. Citizens for Strong Schools is a party to that case, which is expected to go to trial sometime in 2015 or 2016.

In the meantime, all of us who support public education should continue talking to our local lawmakers and other state leaders about what they need to be doing (or not doing!) in Tallahassee. A good source of information on this, including contact information for our local legislative delegation, is the district's new Legislative Platform. You can find it Here.

There's a lot of momentum now for the kinds of changes that Citizens for Strong Schools supports-more funding, more local control, less standardized testing, and so on. We want to take advantage of it to get the message across to those people with the power to make those changes.

Mark McGriff, Chairman
Citizens for Strong Schools