A mother, who recently lost her son, said she feels like the state is accusing her of using his death for political gain.
Ethan Rediske was forced to take the FCAT last year, even though he was severely disabled.
Now Florida's education commissioner is sending teachers a new message about standardized testing.
Orange County Public School Board member Rick Roach said a two-page letter dated March 3 from Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart is a low blow.
“They’re calling it a political attack by a mother who just buried her child,” Roach said. “I’m just flabbergasted about the whole thing.”
But Stewart’s letter said the only way to guarantee success in any endeavor is to set goals and measure our progress.
“It would be moral outrage to deny that opportunity to any child based on any reason including special needs. For all students, it is important that we measure progress so that we educate all children regardless of their circumstances.”
News 13 spoke with Andrea Rediske Monday.
She said she feels the letter is accusing her of using her son's death for political gain and said she has zero political agenda.
Her only motivation is to help other parents of special needs children after her long fight to get a medical waiver exempting Ethan from taking the FCAT.
Ethan died Feb. 6 from cerebral palsy and brain damage at age 11.
Rediske said the speech she gave to the Department of Education eight days after her son’s funeral last month sums up her position on the matter.
“Please don’t force any other family to have to suffer as mine did,” Rediske said. “I call on the legislature in the State of Florida to not only to pass the Ethan Rediske act, which would exempt disabled children from the rigors of high stake standardized testing, but I implore the legislature to further enact legislation that allows any student who experiences pain and suffering as a result of high stakes standardized testing to opt out of these tests.”
Roach is an advocate for “The Ethan Rediske Act,” which would make it easier for special needs students to get exemptions from standardized testing.
“I’m calling out the commissioner here,” Roach said. “What kind of mom are you? What kind of educator could you possibly be that you demand that mothers with children like this, like Ethan and Michael, my other constituent, would be required to take a test and only this test to be the single measure for this child’s progress and then hold the teacher accountable for that progress. It’s wrong.”
But in her letter, Stewart pointed out nearly 1.7 million Florida students took assessment tests last year.
She said only 30 exemptions were requested and 16 of them were granted under Florida law.