SB904: Florida-accredited courses

UFF members, please take a moment (on your cell phone or home phone) to call Sen. Rob Bradley’s office at (904) 278-2085 or (850) 487-5007and leave a one-sentence, polite message to oppose SB 904.  For example, “My name is …. I live in the district, and I want my senator to know that I am opposed to Senate Bill 904.”

What is at stake?  SB 904 takes away decision-making for the curriculum from faculty and the universities and gives it to officials in Tallahassee. They will have the power to decide what we teach and even require FCAT-like outside standarized tests to see if we are correctly teaching to the test. Also. outside commercial vendors can be given the power to substitute their on-line courses for general education courses in the university.
Read on to see why we feel this bill must be stopped — before it becomes law as early as next week.
Tom Auxter
President, United Faculty of Florida

Senate Bill 904 affects how so-called Florida-accredited courses, including MOOCs will be assessed, with many unintended consequences. This bill is working it’s way through the Florida Senate right now.

SB 904 – Bill Text ( 7 pp) and senate staff analysis.

Below is the opinion of the UFF-UF government relations committee, written by Tom Auxter, statewide UFF president:

“Although the staff rationale (senate staff analysis) makes it look like this is about MOOCs, a close reading of the staff analysis makes it clear that the bill invites a wider application. It opens the door to giving credit at any Florida university or college for any course (developed outside these institutions) that convinces the powers-that-be of the desirability and cost-effectiveness that lobbyists are pushing. Supposedly it would “save Florida money” by accepting the credit for an outside course.

Note that authority is given “to contract with qualified contractors to administer and proctor statewide standardized assessments … associated with Florida accredited courses.” This would be a windfall for the same companies that now administer the FCAT, and it would draw higher education into the loop of passing outside standardized testing in order to award course credit in colleges and universities.

If this were only about MOOCs, then SACS accreditation may still be impacted, and the quality of instruction and new providers would still need to be assessed.”

Find your Senator, if not Rob Bradley: