Bipartisan outrage growing in Florida over Pearson's FCAT flubs

Jun 11, 2010

Ron Matus

St. Petersburg Times

Democratic and Republican lawmakers are ramping up cricitism of Pearson in the wake of delays in the release of this year's FCAT scores.

"As per our phone conversation, I know that you share my outrage that Florida spends $254 million dollars on this contract and Pearson did not meet the terms of the contract," Sen. Nancy Detert, chair of the Senate Education Pre-K-12 Committee, said in a letter yesterday to Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith. "I fully expect that Pearson will be charged the $250,000 per day penalty for every day that scores were delayed."

Detert added: "I cannot emphasize my displeasure strongly enough."

Detert's comments echo similarly tough language from Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach. Gaetz said Monday that he'd fire the company if if it was up to him, and Gelber told The St. Petersburg Times today that
"I think the contract should be in extreme jeopardy."

Gelber organized a conference call yesterday between Smith and at least half a dozen senators, including Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico. He called for the Florida Board of Education to conduct a full, formal investigation into what went wrong and why.

"I really hate the way the FCAT is used in the school system," Gelber said. "That said, if you're going to pay a company $254 million, they ought to do it on time."

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