Tennesse and Florida struggle with education system

While the FCAT and other standardized tests are under discussion in Florida, other states seem to have different trouble in the same sectors of deciding on accountability measures.

The honor roll has been all but abolished in Nashville, Tenn., because of complaints received from parents of students whose names haven’t appeared on the list. The complaints have not fallen upon deaf ears as lawyers for the schools in the district have been hired to prove that the honor roll is in violation of privacy laws established in the 1970s.

It shows a sign of the times when hard-working students are basically punished for having done so and don’t receive the recognition they have striven for through their efforts.

According to the Associated Press, all of the schools in Nashville have put a stop to posting honor rolls. Some schools are considering taking the movement further by banning academic contests like spelling bees and academic pep rallies.

These hasty movements were prompted by parents who were worried that their children may be scorned for not having their names on the roll. School-system lawyers supported the argument by citing state privacy laws forbidding the release of any kind of academic information without permission.

Columnist Don Heinzman wrote about a similar situation that took place in 2003 for Howetownsource.com. Heinzman criticized principal Joe Brown of a public school in Austin, Texas, for wanting to stop the public from knowing who was on the honor roll based on the premise that “the public doesn’t have a right to know who’s doing well in school.” Brown believed that revealing who is on the honor roll would in turn reveal who was not on the honor roll, which could ultimately be considered a privacy issue for students making Cs, Ds and Fs.

Heinzman pointed out that, “The public … believes that all documents in the schools, except those covered by the data privacy law, are public and should be released to the public. Federal student privacy guidelines allow the release of honor rolls, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Most states are also credited with following these guidelines. However, it is believed that more schools statewide may follow suit. Nashville has already implemented a “permission slip” system for parents of honor students to sign should their child be eligible for the honor roll.

While Floridian students are taught toward standardized tests such as the FCAT, it would appear that the days of encouraging students to strive for the honor roll are long gone in Nashville. Either approach will not focus on what schools should be centers of: Teaching.

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