Florida’s recently (and narrowly) elected Governor Rick Scott has just unveiled his proposed state budget, which includes more than $3.3 billion in cuts to K-12 education. In addition to a $700 reduction in per-child funding, Scott intends to cut funding to after school clubs like Girl Scouts and Science Fair. One of the few places Scott will increase education funding is in standardized testing.
This type of education budget represents a disturbing national trend in which education is increasingly focused on st andardized test scores, to the detriment and neglect of other vital aspects of childhood development. While standardized tests do a good job of measuring things like math skills and reading levels, they do a poorer job at measuring skills like critical thinking, and completely neglect to measure the development of important life-skills like, say, ethics, or, more relevant here, the ability of students to enjoy learning.
Cutting programs like Girl Scouts and Science Fair will create a deficit in these valuable areas of childhood development in our public schools. Girl Scouts, as I learned first hand in my public school twenty-plus years ago, teaches young girls empathy, good-citizenship, and self-sufficiency. Science Fair encourages students to enjoy learning, and to explore science hands-on. It also encourages at-risk students to focus their creative energy in the classroom. Cutting these programs, while at the same time increasing funding to metrics-based testing (which has very little proven effectiveness in actually making kids smarter), will create a joyless learning environment, giving public school children across Florida less access to the sort of caring, nurturing learning environment they deserve.