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  • Florida Education Reforms Succeed, Spread to Other States

    Florida is widely recognized as the state leader in education reform. Students in the Sunshine State have made the strongest academic achievement gains in the nation since 2003, and they are one of the only states that have been able to narrow the achievement gap between white and minority students. Yesterday, the Washington Post highlighted the Florida model, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s role in its creation:

    “The president who turned No Child Left Behind from slogan into statute is gone from Washington, and the influence of his signature education law is fading. But another brand of Bush school reform is on the rise.

    “The salesman is not the 43rd president, George W. Bush, but the 43rd governor of Florida, his brother Jeb.

    “At the core of the Jeb Bush agenda are ideas drawn from his Florida playbook: Give every public school a grade from A to F. Offer students vouchers to help pay for private school. Don’t let them move into fourth grade unless they know how to read.”

    State leaders seem to know a good reform strategy when they see it, and many across the country are beginning to embrace the Florida reform model.

    Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Governor Gary Herbert of Utah just signed the Florida-style A-F grading system into law in their respective states. The scale grades schools and school districts on a straightforward, transparent scale designed to inform parents and taxpayers about achievement results. The move will arm parents with more information about school performance – a necessary step to improving education. State leaders in Indiana, Arizona and Louisiana also recently implemented the A-F grading scale.

    While transparency about school performance is essential to results-based education reform, providing parents with opportunities to act on that information is crucial. Many states are now working to enact that most important piece of the Florida reform model – school choice.

    In Indiana, a school choice bill – what could become the largest in the country – is under consideration that would provide significant new education options for families. According to the Foundation for Educational Choice, the House bill under consideration would create a new voucher program that would allow children to attend a private school of their choice. Scholarship amounts will be determined on a sliding scale based on income, and after three years, the cap on the number of eligible students would be lifted.

    Moves to embrace the Florida reform model – in whole or in part – illustrate the great capacity of state leaders to look toward what works in education and modify it to meet the needs of local communities.

    By contrast, Washington has been trying for nearly a half century to push education reform from the top down, despite being far from the students and schools their policies impact.

    The Washington Post goes on to say that “[Jeb] Bush left office in 2007, and his legacy is much debated.” While some may like to debate which of the reform elements of his plan were most effective, there’s little room to debate the results.

    Florida students have demonstrated the strongest gains on the NAEP in the nation since 2003, when all 50 states began taking NAEP exams. Moreover, between 1998 and 2008, the average score for black students increased by 12 points in reading from 192 to 204. In Florida, it increased by 25 points—twice the gains of the national average. If African American students nationwide had made the same amount of progress as African American students in Florida, the fourth-grade reading gap between black and white would be approximately half the size it is today.

    If federal policymakers truly wanted to help education reform flourish, they would relieve states of the bureaucratic red tape and heavy handed mandates, and allow state leaders to have more control over how education dollars are spent. As the recent replications of the highly successful Florida reform model show, state leaders are eager to do what works and what’s in the best interest of students.

    Posted in Education, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Florida Education Reforms Succeed, Spread to Other States

    1. Green Goat, Virginia says:

      "Florida is widely recognized as the state leader in education reform."

      Quite a bold statement, lol………

    2. Pingback: Florida Education Reforms Succeed, Spread to Other States | Big Propaganda

    3. Roy Callahan - Gaine says:

      Where in the Constitution does it say the Federal Government has any authority in education? It's a state, not a federal function.

    4. Jen Paulo---Gilbert, says:

      Kudos to Florida's educational achievement!!!Why don't other schools adopt the policy that obviously worked well in FLA.

    5. Reggie Dickson says:

      And how did the Department of Education help in this process?

      The message is clear. Get the Federal government out of the states business–education, health care, enviornment, et al.

    6. Pingback: Florida Education Reforms Succeed, Spread to Other States | International Education News | Renaissance School International | Panama City | private preschool, elementary school, middle school

    7. SC resident says:

      If the Federal Government would get out of the education business completely, we'd save billions, and our children would gain millions of hours of instruction time since the teachers wouldn't be so busy filling out government forms.

    8. lbw6303 says:

      And now under Governor Scott, maybe Fl can start another long over due trend — Pay for performance for teachers. The notion that teachers must have tenure and be paid on the basis of seniority and level of degree held is archaic at best, socialist for sure and ensures no better than mediocre results. Industry has long ago demonstrated both the process and the results of merit pay. Teacher unions have held back our public schools dramatically and done nothing but illustrate the definition of insanity —- Socialist policies/practice tried over and over still yield the same result —- Failure!!

    9. Linda, Somerset, TX says:

      Major kudos to Governor Bush. As a former educator and on the executive committee of the local Teacher's Union (whose sole interest was the Administration and school board, NOT the students or teachers), I applaud these achievements and feel they need to be implemented in ALL the states. I got out of teaching me because the educational system is so corrupt and top heavy with Administrators who are under qualified and over paid. While I and my fellow teachers were taking up collections among ourselves to purchase mimeograph paper and our own classroom supplies, the teachers union, the district administration and the school board were taking two week seminars at a posh resort (along with their spouses and children) paid in full by the school district and/ or union dues. One of the main reasons I left, though, is the government was telling me how and what I HAD to teach and the way I was supposed to teach it, even though I was a Special Education teacher and was teaching the students using different methods for each student that would enable them to learn, which is what special education is all about!

      Most of my grandchildren attend Charter schools, which was set up here in Texas by the governor George W. Bush, and these schools, which requires among other things, parental participation. These schools work above and beyond better than any public school and are free! We need to get the Teacher's Union Lobby and their influence OUT of Washington (in Texas, they are only good for liability insurance).

    10. Greg says:

      Flordia's data is amazing. Clearly evaluating schools (A-F) makes a big difference. It definitely seems to be a decent substitute for the free market.

      The proposed reforms in Indiana are incredibly exciting. I hope they get a chance to have real school choice! It seems so revolutionary but it's such a simple common sense idea. You get to send your kid to the school that seems to be the best, whether it's public or private. It's about time this became law! Hopefully Indiana will show the way and other states will soon follow.

    11. SueD, Phoenix, AZ says:

      Great news. Whatever Jeb Bush did right is being instituted in other states. Arizona is in dire need of assistance in it education systems. I'm pleased to know Governor Brewer is willing to use a proven program for the education of their students.

    12. Steve Rosborough Gul says:

      The so called experts who wrote this is clueless. I have a son in a Florida school and once you reach middle school the only thing the school cares about is trying to maintain their A rating. What this really means is they ignore the struggling students and do every thing they can to get the struggling and weak kids out of their schools. All that matters to them is the rating NOTHING else matters. You have to live here with a weak student to see how bad they want them out poor students hurt their precious rating. All they do is try to sweep the bad students out the door as these things are hard to tell their happening looking at the stastics. If you have a good student its great if you have a weak one you are screwed.

    13. Pingback: Governor Mitch Daniels Champions Education Reforms | The Foundry

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