LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Anger and accusations today as Lee County school leaders vote to opt back in to state mandated testing. The 3-2 vote to opt out last week changed to a 3-2 vote in the other direction today, when board member Mary Fischer rescinded her vote.
"It is not easy to sit up here and say I want to change my mind," said Fischer. "The kids have been my life's work. That is why I am calling for a reconsideration."
The meeting started at 8:30am which upsetted many people, because they said others were at work and could not attend. The new vote disappointed some, and made others happy.
"I think this is a political game and our children are pawns." Chris Patricca has three children in the Lee County School District and feels Tuesday's vote to return to state mandated testing is a victory.
"I think testing is absolutely necessary to gauge our students mastery of the standards," she said.
She's one of more than 100 people gathered at school district headquarters Tuesday morning. Some parents spoke, saying they didn't like state mandated testing, but wanted a plan in place before the district makes any decision to opt out.
Cape Coral's Mayor Marni Sawicki was one of them.
"Let's take a look at the whole situation, go back to finding a plan and moving forward. I would completely be supportive of that," Mayor Sawicki said.
Others who vigorously supported the districts original decision to opt out of high stakes testing also had a lot to say. "The very real damage of allowing high stakes testing to continue far outweigh the unlikely consequences of any state actions," said one Lee County resident.
Some even called for the resignation of Superintendent Dr Nancy Graham and board member Mary Fischer.
"Dr. Graham seems to be doing a lot of complaining. She needs to get to work or she needs to go," said one speaker.
"It was 8:30 in the morning when this meeting started, over a three day weekend, we packed the house. Again with red t-shirts. I don't know what else we can do to be heard. they don't care. This is absolute tyranny in this community," said Lori Cohn.
Those in the red shirts vowed they would not stop speaking out, and will continue to push the school district to opt out of high-stakes testing in the future.