Happy Halloween from the "Walking Dead" Florida Standards Assessment

Who will save our poor children and teachers from DeSantis' zombie test-pocalypse this spring? Also, let's walk down recent Florida education history, as told through Billy's costumes.

You didn’t think I forgot, did you? It’s Halloween-ish, which means it’s time for, well, you know …

In honor of Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran killing Florida’s Big Test — and then letting it live for one more pointless spring, I give you:

2021 — The FSA, Walking Dead

Here’s my recent explainer of testpocalypse — and what it means that Gov. COVID decided to eat Jeb’s brain and announce to the world: hey, that lib Billy is right about Big Test! Key excerpt:


“I want more learning and less test prep,” DeSantis said at a second news conference in Clearwater. “You can do this in a much more effective way.”

And then this from Richard Corcoran, America’s most test-and-punish positive education commissioner:

“From April to May, we basically shut down schools for testing,” he said.

He said the faults of standardized testing became evident during the first full school year of the pandemic, when results from Florida Standards Assessments were not counted, but schools were using progress monitoring.

Corcoran also called Big Test “archaic.”


And yet, that archaic, time-destroying zombie test will eat the brains of one last spring in a few months because … reasons? I mean DeSantis has proven himself quite good at death. I find it odd that he can’t finish the job on zombie test.

Watching DeSantis breach the walls of Jeb’s foundation with swarming zombie tests — the sheer fascinating momentous gore of it — convinced me that I needed to up the dramatic stakes this year to match the spectacle. There is a pathos to zombies — once they had life and purpose. Now they just limp and lose body parts and smell.

So in the humane, regenerative spirit of “Warm Bodies” — and also “I’m just a bill on Capitol Hill” (kinda) — behold a lumbering, talking, self-aware zombie test. Once Jeb used him to destroy public education while pretending he had a purpose. Now, FSA wants to find redemption and sweet sweet death while saving our kids and what’s left of civilization.

I think I kill this role.


And for new readers, which is most people because “Public Enemy Number 1” is only about a year old in this form, you might enjoy a walk through the recent history of Florida education and/or Billy’s life within it, as performed by cheap, sometimes vaguely-clever costuming.

In reverse chronological order …

2020 — “Public Enemy Number 1”

The costume that launched a Substack.

It was inspired by the fact that a Big Charter school PAC sent out mailers calling both me and Orange County School Board Member Karen Castor Dentel “Public Enemy Number 1” during the 2020 campaign. That’s right: there were two Public Enemies Number 1 for Big Charter. I always found that hilarious.

Also hilarious: the Flavor Flav, Public Enemy, oversized clock necklace a wonderfully Gen X campaign supporter sent me.

Always, always, always own your insults, especially if they elevate your importance to what you’re trying to accomplish. That’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in public life. That’s why I remain grateful for the folks who sent this out to the world.

2019 — Unfunded Man Date

From my 2019 article: “Wherefore art thou, Unfunded Man Date? A Halloween romantic horror story in four acts.”

I'm an "Unfunded Man Date," aching for some loving legislator or governor or educrat to take my rose and take me to dinner (or at least give me an adequate budget for anything -- like pay that keeps people in the teaching profession, school security, ESE, or even compulsory education as a concept.)

Go read the full narrative arc — it will break your heart.

2018 — Education Commissioner Pam Stewart’s 15-minute lunch

This relates to one of the great moments in recent Florida education history, when the intrepid TV reporter Katie Lagrone refused to be stonewalled by the medicore Pam Stewart, Rick Scott’s final Education Commissioner.

Pam complained that Katie interrupted her 15-minute lunch at a Board of Education meeting to ask about a reason for Florida’s chronic teacher shortage. Watch it; it’s a classic.

So I decided to go as a combination of Pam Stewart and Pam Stewart’s 15-minute lunch.

2017 — VAM-pire

This was my wife’s idea. I must give her full credit. VAM— the so-called Value Added Model — is an unholy, incomprehensible, nonsense equation designed to create a career-defining score for teachers based on zombie Big Test.

It was created by the ever destructive “liberal reformers,” staked across the country by statisticians as useless way back in 2014, and then raised from the coffin by Republicans in Florida as a bloodsucking tool to drain the teacher supply.

Good explainer here: “Dear Gov. DeSantis: the Corcoran/Stargel/DoE VAM-pire is back, sucking teacher and student blood as always”

I wore this costume to a Halloween Day meeting with Polk’s horror show of a Legislative delegation.

Former Superintendent Jackie Byrd balked at sitting down next to me because I had taken out my fangs and put them down on the table we were sharing so I could talk better.

“Can you move your teeth?” she said to me, in perhaps my favorite memory of her.

“Yes ma’am, I sure can.”

Happy Halloween, everybody.