A Florida teacher was recently arrested for purposely disrupting state tests by blasting loud music in a classroom.
Many times, it is the student looking for ways to avoid taking a test. Excuses abound, though eventually, they fall on deaf ears. But when a teacher is looking for excuses, it’s a rare occurrence and one that typically gets a lot of attention. Especially in Florida and when the teacher ends up getting arrested for his actions.
Creekside Middle School in Port Orange, Florida was the site of a strange occurrence. It was here that Florida teacher Martin Reese decided he was going to protest the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) tests being given to students by cranking up the music as a way to disrupt testing. Port Orange police were called into action after Reese turned the volume up and wouldn’t relent.
When police arrived, the Florida teacher refused to turn down the tunes and when they finally approached him, he caused a disturbance while being escorted to the principal’s office. Reese’s actions forced the school to go into lockdown, where it stayed until police resolved Reese’s situation. One mother, Aubrey Markovitz, said to Fox 5 News, “They couldn’t leave their class or anything like that.” She explained that her daughter was already stressed about taking the FSA test and Reese’s action didn’t make it any better. “They’re trying to get through it, so to have a disruption while they’re stressed and trying to get through their testing, she was a little irritated. Kind of shaken up.”
Reese, who has been a teacher within the Florida school district since 2009, had only been at Creekside Middle School for three weeks. While the Florida teacher was making noise, students used their phones to record his actions. “It seems like it was more than just him blasting music. He took his shirt off, he was yelling,” Markovitz said. “My hope is that if this individual has some greater needs perhaps some mental health needs that he will be able to obtain the assistance he needs.”
Thankfully, no one was in any danger and there were no weapons involved, said the Port Orange Police Department. Police charged the Florida teacher with disorderly conduct and with disrupting a school function. Reese bonded out of jail and his mother states that an attorney has been hired to defend her son.
Reese posted two videos to his Instagram account explaining his actions. The Florida teacher said in a lengthy 50-minute video that the middle school students were “stressed” about taking the FSA test after being out of school for such a long time due to the COVID pandemic. He said the reason for blasting the music was simple – he wanted the entire school to have to retake the FSA. In the video Reese also spoke about his beliefs concerning the Florida school system, speaking up for the poorer students, and how the district’s teaching staff is vastly underrepresented by the Black community.
While the Florida teacher’s action cannot be condoned, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has already turned up his own style of music as it pertains to the FSA. He has, in fact, turned it up so loud that beginning with the 2022-23 school year, students will no longer be subject to the state’s testing. Gov. DeSantis recently signed SB 1048, which effectively removed the FSA and replaced it with a “progress monitoring system.”
“While much of the country has struggled to even open schools, Florida’s education leaders are continuing to push ahead and better help students, parents, and teachers to close achievement gaps,” said Governor Ron DeSantis via News 4 Jax of his signing. “In three years, we have eliminated Common Core, invested approximately $2 billion to increase teacher pay, focused on literacy, and created civic standards that empower our students to become great citizens. By signing this bill, we are setting an example for the nation.”
Although the FSA is going bye-bye, it doesn’t mean the testing for students will be going away. The progress monitoring system will conduct tests three times a year, at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. “This great legislation addresses concerns we have heard from parents and teachers about the kinds of high-stakes testing we have in our schools,” said State Senate President Wilton Simpson. “Testing is an important accountability tool for schools, teachers, and students, but it doesn’t do much good to wait until the end of the year to find out a student has been having trouble. Transitioning to progress monitoring will provide more timely information about how students are doing throughout the school year so that any struggles can be addressed quickly.” Florida teacher Reese may have had good intentions. Some of the students may have also appreciated his efforts. But forcing a school into lockdown is probably not the best tact to take.