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I won’t seek a 5th term on the Orange County School Board

Posted: 2014-03-07

People in Orange County have known that they could count on Rick Roach to stand up for kids and teachers. I look forward to seeing what he does next.

My many years as an Orange County School Board member representing District 3 have been rewarding beyond description. What I've learned, my friendships with students, teachers, administrators, constituents, members of civic and business organizations and fellow board members, the satisfactions of problems solved--even wrestling with problems that have no good solution--have unquestionably changed me for the better.

But I'm leaving in November, and I want to say why. I'm not leaving because I feel I can no longer make a difference in Orange County, but because I want to make a bigger difference than my role allows.

First, after 42 years as an educator and 16 as a school board member, I no longer recognize my profession. People who have never taught, or have been out of the classroom too long to remember teachingâs complexity, now control the institution. Education policy makers, who wouldn't dream of telling surgeons how to wield a scalpel or telling pilots how to land an airliner, seem perfectly comfortable dictating rigid guidelines for teachers.

Second, the push to standardize has gotten out of control. As the worldâs problems grow increasingly complex, we don't need standardized minds but fresh thinking. We've long led the world in creativity and ingenuity, but those now running the education show in Washington and Tallahassee have steadily taken away the trust, freedom and respect that once allowed teachers to use their strengths effectively. I want to use my knowledge and experience to help solve these problems.

Finally, it's the drive to test, test, and re-test that leads me to conclude that it's time for me to do more to change this agenda. That a score on a single, machine-scored, multiple-choice test can erase 180 days of work and override teacher judgment is insulting. Test manufacturers say, in print, that no single measure is accurate enough to base life-changing decisions on it, but their warnings are ignored, as is the fact that failure rates are set even before the tests are administered.

We're so caught up in the testing frenzy, we even insist on testing kids with severe brain impairments, or who have little or no brain at all. Immigrant children who arrive in America speaking no English are tested after only one year, when research clearly says it takes at least four or five years to become proficient in a new language. Pass-fail cut scores ignore margins-of-error, forcing kids to repeat a class for a full year because they missed the cut by a point or two. This has to end.

It has been my pleasure to serve you for the past 16 years and I want to continue to be your voice and search for common sense solutions, always putting our students first. My passion for real education tells me to get closer to the battlefield where decisions are being made. There are better ways to educate than we're using and I want to find and promote them.

Yours in Education,

Judge "Rick" Roach

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