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[Susan notes: My heart lightens every time a teacher speaks out. And this is an especially fine, powerful letter, condensing the tremendous power given over to FCAT so the public can see it in a glance. AND the letter calls for redress, as every letter should.]

Published in St. Petersburg Times

To the editor

Education Commissioner John Winn, like the governor who appointed him, has been relentlessly arrogant and dismissive of the needs and concerns of teachers. He has also, like Jeb Bush, had an obsession with the FCAT.

Thanks to this misguided obsession, a single standardized test now creaks under the weight of numerous high stakes. FCAT now determines whether third-graders are promoted, whether those completing high school get a diploma; it determines school grades and funding, whether a school faces sanctions for not making adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and now, teacher pay.

The FCAT alone does not yield sufficient information to be used as the sole determinant in any decision, let alone these high-stakes decisions, some of which can negatively affect a child for life.

Why, then, does Winn insist that high-stakes decisions be based on FCAT alone? And why is Winn determined to put one more straw on the camel's back?

Thanks to clueless politicians and bureaucrats, teachers are working harder than ever, but we're being forced only to work harder - not smarter. It is now impossible for teachers to meet all the demands placed upon them.

STAR will not help. It will only exacerbate the problem. Let's all encourage Gov.-elect Charlie Crist to demand Winn's resignation. We all deserve a fresh start with an education commissioner who shares Crist's penchant for consensus-building.

John L. Perry, teacher, director, Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform

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