State education officials in Florida tried for weeks to force  a dying boy in a coma to take a standardized test, simply to comply with what many say is a ridiculous state law.
To add insult to injury, it was the second time officials tried to force Ethan Rediske, 11, who was blind and had severe brain damage, to take the test which is mandated by state requirements.
“Seriously? Why is Ethan Rediske not meeting his 6th-grade hospital homebound curriculum requirements,” Ethan’s mother, Andrea Rediske, wrote to The Washington Post. “BECAUSE HE IS IN A MORPHINE COMA.”
Even though Ethan was in a coma, a teacher had to visit him every day and “document” his “progress,” Andrea Rediske told The Post. Ethan, who passed away Feb. 7, had been placed in a morphine-induced coma in a hospice to keep him out of pain.
She was particularly outraged because she thought Ethan had been granted a waiver from the testing .
State Tormented Dying Boy and Family
Last year, education officials  tried to test Ethan even though he had a hard time answering yes or no because of brain damage.
“Each question can take up to 10 to 15 minutes to just do one question” Rediske told an Orlando TV station last year. She alleged  that officials made Ethan sit up in a wheelchair to take the test, which harmed his lungs. Some of the questions made absolutely no sense.
“They’re asking him questions about the way a peach tastes, and he’s fed through a tube in his stomach, and he will never taste a peach,” Andrea said. “I honestly don’t know what they’re trying to measure with this test and at the end of the day it’s damaging his health.”
Severely Disabled Boy “Tested” in Nursing Home
What’s worse is that Ethan isn’t the only mentally disabled child who has been forced to take the test, called the Florida  Alternative Assessments.
Officials forced Michael, a blind nine-year old boy who has a brain stem instead of brain, to take a standardized test, Orange County school board member Rich Roach told Orlando TV station Channel 9. Michael is so severely disabled that he has to live in a nursing home.
“He’s blind. And they’re showing him pictures of a giraffe, a monkey and an elephant and asking him which one is the monkey,” Roach said. “I’m watching all this and just about to lose my mind.”
This Madness Has To Stop
Andrea Rediske is so upset at the testing that she has launched a crusade against the test. She’s sent letters and emails to officials and to the media. Andrea and Orlando Sentinel writer Scott Maxwell did get a response  from the state of Florida that outraged them both.
“These summative assessments used in Florida are one way to measure student mastery of these standards,” an email from a state official stated.
“This is the problem with public education in this state,” Maxwell wrote. “We have become so test-obsessed that we substitute standardized exams for common sense.”
In his column, Maxwell said he believes in tests but he thinks they’ve gone too. He tried to help the Rediskes.
Perhaps the best response came from Andrea Rediske who wrote:
“This madness has got to stop. Please help us.”
The good news is that other parents might be spared the ordeal that Andrea went through. Representative Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) has introduced legislation that would grant severely disabled children a waiver from the testing in the state legislature.