Paul Moore is tired of funerals.
The 53-year-old social studies teacher at Miami Carol City Senior High School is tired of seeing his students die (three were shot to death this past school year). So Moore drafted an unusual petition calling on Governor Charlie Crist to share his part of the bargain, to be accountable for the safety of Florida's youngest and most vulnerable. The New York Times took notice.
Arguing that a "system of strict accountability" (i.e., FCATs) applies to children, Moore argues that politicians should be held accountable too. "We await a response to this crisis." Something has to give in a state where lawmakers seem more focused on protecting gun owners' rights to wield their weapons than children's right to live their lives, he says.
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Passed from hand to hand, the petition has garnered about 2600 signatures so far, says Moore, who can be emailed regarding the petition:
Account for the children's lives before FCAT!
The Accountability Project Petition
acï¿½countï¿½aï¿½bilï¿½iï¿½ty - Pronunciation: (u-koun"tu-bil'i-t?),-n. 1. the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable. 2. Educ.a policy of holding schools and teachers accountable for students' academic progress by linking such progress with funding for salaries, maintenance, etc.
A system of strict accountability for children reigns in Florida. They begin to answer to men with power under this system at the age of 9 or 10-years-old. No matter the circumstances of the child's life-poverty, racism, neglect, abuse, malnutrition, the constant threat of violence-no excuse is accepted. Failure is always punished!
There was a little girl at Lillie C. Evans Elementary last year that met and far exceeded the state's accountability demands. Sherdavia Jenkins was a top scorer on the FCAT and was granted permission to proceed to the fourth grade. While school was recessed for the summer though, the little girl was shot and killed playing with a doll on her front porch. The system of strict accountability failed to protect Sherdavia. That failure was not punished!
As they grow older, Florida's children never escape the pressures of accountability unless they can afford private schooling. Teenagers are responsible for mastery of FCAT skills as a condition of high school graduation in the State of Florida. One young man, an aspiring lawyer and honor student at Miami Carol City High School, met and far exceeded the state's demands but just days before the graduation ceremony Jeffrey Johnson, Jr. was gunned down. Jeffrey was buried in his cap and gown.
For Sherdavia and Jeffrey and a growing list of children and youth of color who have died violently in Miami-Dade and around the State of Florida, we the undersigned declare that the time has come to make accountability a two-way street.
We the undersigned appeal to you Gov. Charlie Crist. Our young people have dutifully faced up to the state's measure of accountability-the FCAT. Yet today they stand abandoned and neglected in the shadow of violence and death. We are the classmates, the parents and the teachers of the fallen children and in their memory we pledge to begin building a boycott of the FCAT while we await a response to this crisis. You must use the great power of the governor's office to make Florida's schools and the communities around them "measurably" safer. You are accountable to us for it!