Governor Scott tours Florida schools to improve education
By Roger Caldwell
There are problems in the Florida Education System, and it started when the new Governor Scott cut $1.3 billion from Florida schools. When Governor Scott was elected he believed that he could cut 10 percent from the educational budget, and funnel public school funds into religious, charter, and private schools.
Governor Scott believed that he had all the answers to the Florida educational system, and eventually he would implement a voucher system, and give parents the option of choice. Our governor was promoting his ideas in the media and he made it clear that he was going to make major changes. He decided that he was going to eliminate tenure with teachers’ salary, and challenge the teacher’s union.
As our new governor tried to implement his first budget, there was wide-spread resistance across the state, and he received a 29 percent job approval rating. According to many different polls, Governor Scott is the most un-popular governor in the country. Scott tried to shrug this off, but he hired a new chief of staff to improve his image.
As Governor Scott is trying to improve his image, he begins to understand that Floridians are proud of their educational system, and they work hard with the FCAT system. In Scott’s second budget, he tries to repair his image by shifting his priorities and increase the educational budget by $1 billion. This is a move in the right direction, but the state education commissioner Gerald Robinson has resigned after less than a year on the job.
There was also a new grading formula for the required FCAT, which led to a sharp decline in school grades, with the number of A-rated schools in Florida dropping from 58 percent to 48 percent. Many of the school officials argue the move to the new FCAT 2.0 is like training for and running a marathon, than switching courses mid-way in the race.
Governor Scott is caught in the middle of this debacle, and he is acknowledging that Florida students may be undergoing too much testing. Many parents and student believe that the FCAT is not fair, and many of the schools are falling apart, and the tax base which funds the schools is declining.
Last year Governor Scott held a roundtable discussion with teachers at a Kissimmee middle school and the teachers challenged many of Scott’s ideas on accountability and school choice. There are problems in the Florida educational system that needs to be addressed. An educational listening tour is a good idea, and helps make the educational system more transparent.
It appears that there will be another political committee appointed and charged with the responsibility to make suggestions on solutions to identified educational system problems. Hopefully, this committee will focus on the public school educational system, as opposed to the voucher system and charter schools. The governor may be moving to the center, and he is learning that asking for advice and listening can collectively solve problems.