Florida Rep. Janet Adkins

Public school teachers work for the public. They’re paid by the public and, as many members of the public believe, should be subject to the same public scrutiny as other public employees. Not so, according to state Rep. Janet Adkins, District 12, who filed a bill to keep teacher evaluation data private. In March, a judge ruled against a request from The Florida Times-Union to obtain data used to determine a teacher’s effectiveness in improving student test scores. In response, Adkins, at the request of the Florida Education Association, introduced House Bill 7161: Public Records/Student Learning Growth Data, which “provides exemption from public records requirements for student learning growth data that is educator-specific and personally identifies an educator which is held by DOE or school district for use in evaluation of educator. … ” Though the bill died in the State Affairs Committee, many Floridians still question Adkins’ thought process. Why should teachers be afforded such “protection” when other public employees are not? And if teachers grade their students’ work, shouldn’t students and their parents, as well as any other interested parties, have the information to grade them? On Nov. 13, an appeals court ruled that Florida value-added teacher data are public records, overturning the original judge’s ruling against the Times-Union. The state Department of Education has 15 days to seek a rehearing and 30 days to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.