tf Letter from Educators for Inclusive Leadership LULAC Florida Council Director Lourdes Bravo and Dr. Oneyda Paneque, Council Education Comissioner, to Governor Rick Scott

June 18, 2012
The Honorable Rick Scott
Governor, State of Florida
The Capitol
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0001

Dear Governor Scott:

Governor Scott, please exert your leadership to pave the way for adoption of the English Language Learner (ELL) and Students with Disabilities, Exceptional Student Education (ESE) recommendations of the Commissioner’s Task Force on Inclusion and Accountability in time for the July 15 ESEA flexibility waiver deadline.

Please do what your Commissioner has not done: remove state barriers to adoption of the recommendations and take part in face to face negotiations with the USDOE for recommendations that require federal approval.

As members of a newly created additional LULAC Florida Council in Miami, Educators for Inclusive Leadership Council, we ask for your leadership to bring about implementation of the English Language Learners (ELL) and Students with Disabilities, Exceptional Student Education (ESE) recommendations of the Commissioner’s Task Force on Inclusion and Accountability. Our frustration at the bureaucratic delays in moving forward with these recommendations prompted us to form this LULAC Council, so we could contribute our time and talents to the solution of the problem. The same motivation is driving the formation of additional LULAC Councils across the state.

On May 14, you stated,  “Our students must know how to read and write, and our education system must be able to measure and benchmark their progress so we can set clear education goals.  The significant contrast in this year’s writing scores is an obvious indication that the Department of Education needs to review the issue and recommend an action plan so that our schools, parents, teachers and students have a clear understanding of the results.” We agree with you.

The Commissioner’s Task Force recommendations will lead to fair treatment and more accurate results for our most vulnerable students and their schools. For these students, the Action Plan is already crafted and now needs action. The consequences of not doing so could prove disastrous for our students. As you may know many of these students are victims of bullying as it is, and the consequences of the changes in accountability will cause further marginalization. Not acting on the recommendations could be conducive to will more discrimination of these students, including increasing rates of drop out, depression and suicide. Our past success in increasing graduation rates could soon turn to failure for students, their schools, their families, their communities, and their property values, if action is not taken.

The Commissioner and Chairperson Shanahan have not said no to these recommendations, they’ve said later. It’s a matter of priorities. Please help the Commissioner understand that for Floridians, and I hope for you, the implementation of the ELL, ESE recommendations of the Commissioner’s Task Force, now, has high priority. This priority is so high that we implore you will personally take part in negotiations with the U. S. Department of Education on the state’s ESEA Waiver request, before their deadline of July 15th.

Lourdes Bravo,  M.S.,  Council Director
Oneyda M. Paneque, Ed.D., Education Commissioner                                                          
Educators for Inclusive Leadership LULAC Florida Council