Business Leaders Quickly Back Rick Scott’s 2013 Education Plan
Around the State
The Florida Chamber of Commerce wasted little time Thursday commending Gov. Rick Scott’s College & Career FIRST education plan as it was unveiled in Fort Myers.
The plan for K-12 students in the 2013 state legislative session expands charter schooling options for districts, creates debt cards to help defer costs incurred by teachers, and blocks new testing from being offered that doesn’t meet Common Core State Standards that will be implemented in 2014.
“Any ‘Investment’ we make in education must be focused on ‘Results for Students and Teachers,’ Scott stated in a release. “We need to be investing our resources and our energies in policies that work … and our agenda for the upcoming legislative session will do just that.”
Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson was quick to call education “the new economic development currency.”
“I have said repeatedly, creating a talented work force through high-quality education should be our No. 1 strategy for securing Florida’s future,” Wilson stated in a release.
“In just five years, Florida has gone from 31st out of 50 states to 11th highest in education achievement rankings. Florida’s gains now serve as a model for other states, including Louisiana, Indiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, and now even North Carolina. Florida’s students are being equipped for a changing world and a highly competitive work force. But we know that we have more work to do to prepare our students to be globally competitive.”
The economic growth focused Florida Council of 100 called Scott’s plan bold.
“Today’s announcement of Governor Scott’s College & Career FIRST initiative sets a bold direction consistent with many of the principles in Closing the Talent Gap," Steve Halverson, Chair of the Florida Council of 100, stated in a release.
"As business leaders, we support the Governor's commitment to K-12 education and look forward to working with him to advance a detailed plan of action grounded in high standards, rigorous assessments, and strong accountability.”
Interim Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart credited the statewide listening tour Scott undertook at the start of the school year for shaping the governor’s plan.
“One thing was clear. Parents all want their children to have the best education available. They want their children to learn and be prepared for colleges, careers, and a successful future. That same goal is true for teachers. And it is true for students,” Stewart stated.
“The governor’s legislative agenda is built upon what he heard as he traveled the state. It addresses many of the issues that are important to parents, teachers, and students -- mentoring programs that can complement parental involvement, innovative support for teachers, and a commitment to K-12 funding.”
Florida Democratic leader-designate Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, dismissed Scott’s plan before it was fully released.
“Here we go again. It’s almost Halloween and Rick Scott is trying to disguise his horrific education record,” Thurston wrote Wednesday.
“Rick Scott and Republican legislative leaders have drained billions of tax dollars from our public schools and they have given many of these dollars to out-of-state corporations and for-profit companies who are making money off our children’s education.
“I believe, and other Florida House Democratic Caucus members believe, that strong public schools are the pathway to growing our economy and helping middle-class families succeed. Unfortunately, Rick Scott is still not providing Florida the level of education funding improvements that our public schools deserve.”
Bullet points of Scott’s plan:
GOAL 1: Accountability in Transition: Florida will not implement new testing requirements that do not support the new Common Core State Standards.
• The Common Core State Standards are the new measures that will drive accountability in the classroom. The transition is underway now and the new standards will take full effect next fall. These standards have been adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia and were developed by educators, business leaders and college professors.
• A student’s performance against the Common Core Standards will be a practical, tangible measure of how they will perform in both higher education and the work force.
• For example, under these new standards, students will no longer just be asked to answer math questions like the FCAT did. Instead, they will be asked to write out an explanation of how they came up with their answer. This will give educators better information about how students are learning.
• As the new standards are implemented, the FCAT for math and English will be eliminated. However, there will still be accountability in Common Core that will help teachers evaluate student progress and change their instruction, as needed, to drive better outcomes.
• The shift to Common Core will not be a curveball thrown into Florida’s education system, but will be clearly communicated to students, parents and teachers to ensure success in the classroom.
GOAL 2: Support Teachers: Florida must support teachers by giving them the tools they need to succeed.
• Teacher Supply Program: Under this program, every teacher will be given a debit card, supported by state, district, and hopefully private-sector funds to purchase supplies for their classroom without spending their personal money, like they do today. Businesses will have the opportunity to invest in classrooms across Florida by working with local districts to support this award program.
• Competitive Teacher Training Grant: $2 million of state funds will be invested to create a competitive teacher training grant which will also leverage private-sector funding and federal grant dollars to increase teacher training programs.
• Mentor Program Funding: Accountability on current mentor program funding will be established to ensure Florida is funding programs that help prepare students for college and careers.
GOAL 3: Flexibility in Education: Florida must increase flexibility in education by eliminating unnecessary regulations so teachers do not lose valuable time preparing students for college and careers
• Eliminate Regulations: Many of the regulations recommended to Gov. Scott by a panel of seven superintendents will be eliminated to streamline the work of Florida educators. Teachers and superintendants have said they waste valuable time on unnecessary rules and outdated regulations that could be better spent on helping students in the classroom.
• District Flexibility: With the move toward more digital materials in the classroom, the law to allow all districts maximum flexibility in purchasing instructional materials will be changed this year. School districts will no longer be restricted to only paper books – but can instead also purchase software programs or other technology.
• Remove Enrollment Caps: Enrollment caps on existing charter schools will be removed. Parents will have more options for their child’s success – especially when their child is in a failing school. In business, choice and competition create excellence. Increasing options in education will drive increased results for Florida students.
• District Charter Innovation Schools: Legislation will be pursued to allow school districts that already have charter schools to be given the ability to open “District Charter Innovation Schools.” These can be operated by the district with the same funding levels and create more options for parents and students.
Reach Jim Turner at email@example.com or at (772) 215-9889.