I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Florida Continues to Make Great Progress in Education Compared to other States

The American Enterprise Institute has released an updated report card on the state of American Schools on their website. From the AEI report:

“Two years ago, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Center for American Progress, and Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute came together to grade the states on school performance. In that first Leaders and Laggards report, we found much to applaud but even more that requires urgent improvement”.. Put bluntly, we believe our education system needs to be reinvented. After decades of political inaction and ineffective reforms, our schools consistently produce students unready for the rigors of the modern workplace.”

Everyone affiliated with education in America (and Florida) should read this November 10, 2009 report.

A very interesting interactive graphic representation of the report is available on the Center for American Progress website.

The highlight for Florida in 2009 is that out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, Florida is ranked #13. (In the 2007 report Florida was ranked 33rd) Florida is moving up the list and making great progress in education compared to other states.

Florida’s report card for 2009 looks like this:

School Management C
Finance B
Staffing: Hiring & Evaluation B
Staffing: Removing Ineffective Teachers F
Data A
Pipeline to Postsecondary D
Technology B

From the report:

"Finance. Overall, Florida earns an above-average grade in this category. The state gets a solid mark for the online accessibility of its financial data, and it has a performance pay program for teachers.

Staffing: Removing Ineffective Teachers. Florida receives a very poor score on the ability to remove poor-performing teachers from the classroom. Seventy-one percent of principals say that teacher unions or associations are a barrier to the removal of ineffective teachers, 10 percentage points above the national average of 61%. In addition, 77% of principals report that tenure is a barrier to removing poor-performing teachers."

In January of this year, Florida earned the distinction of being rated a top ten school system in the nation in the 13th annual Quality Counts survey compiled by Education Week. Very little attention was paid the January report, due to the timing of the release of the report right as state lawmakers were discussing slashing the Florida education budget in the midst of a horrible economic climate. Now this new report spotlights some significant progress that Florida is making, and I hope the local press will give this achievement some coverage.

Florida is making great progress, the reforms enacted over the last decade are paying dividends, and we need to heed the guidance suggested in reports like this one to continue to improve. We should take notice of the voices coming from organizations like The New Teacher Project, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other concerned entities. I believe strongly that we should listen to President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan as they push for education reform---I agree with them that districts need to press ahead with ideas like merit pay, charter schools, virtual education and improved teacher evaluation systems—we owe it to our students to continue to be leaders on a national level by advocating for and supporting effective education reforms at the state and local level. As secretary Duncan said, "The Status Quo needs to be challenged" I agree!

I intend to do my part to support effective reforms and challenge the status qup for as long as I am on the Board, just as I have for the past three years.

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