With the inauguration of a statewide schools grading program, Gov. Jeb Bush has unleashed a powerful new instrument that has the potential to, at the very least, shake up public education in Florida. But although the plight of the F-rated schools has drawn the greatest attention, this program is likely to have its greatest effects not on the so-called failing schools, but on the fairly successful ones, those with B- and C-ratings, which make up 1,532 of the state’s 2,447 public schools. That’s because they may begin diverting resources that they applied toward creative and innovative programs, and start applying them exclusively toward improving test scores.
Those schools are the ones that are really going to feel the heat from the most implacable constituency: the middle-class parents, who are intensely concerned about the quality of the schools attended by their college-bound offsprings. They are the parents who write letters to the editor, pack school board meetings, and vote.