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Three day education summit called by Governor Scott

Governor Rick Scott

Governor Rick Scott

Three day education summit called by Governor Scott

By Roger Caldwell

      There is always controversy in the state of Florida, and everyone can find something wrong with the educational system. Some people don’t like the FCAT testing system, and many say the school grading system is a forest, and others are upset because the new Education Commissioner Tony Bennett was forced to resign. This gives the pundits room to criticize the governor, but Florida’s educational system is No. 5 in the country, according to the latest annual “Quality Counts” report.

This report was released in August 2013 by Education Week, the newspaper of record for American education news. This information is music to the governor’s ears, because this is an improvement from No. 8 last year and No. 11 the year before. Everyone can expect to hear some bragging from the governor, but he also admits that the system is at a critical time in its development.

Florida’s grad rates and test scores are not good, and they remain the worst in the country. But the reason the state ranked so high in Ed Week is because, based on some of the best indicators of student progress, few states are improving faster.

“Florida’s educational accountability system has become a national model, but we are at a critical point in our history. Our students need and deserve a quality education that emphasizes critical thinking and analysis. Our teachers and schools need our support as we continue to compete nationally and globally in preparing students for success in college, career and in life,” Scott wrote in a statement announcing the three-day summit.

The summit will start on Monday, August 26, and there is a 36 person guest list. The interim Educational Commissioner Pam Stewart will lead the summit, and the list includes lawmakers, union leaders, superintendents, teachers, education advocates, and parents.

Some of the major movers expected to attend: State Board of Education chairmen Gary Chartrand; Florida Education Association president Andy Ford; Florida School Boards Association executive director Wayne Blanton; Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho; Florida Charter School Alliance board member John Kirtey; and Patricia Leveseque, executive director of former Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future. There were also invited three top teachers from Miami-Dade, Orange, and Duval counties, and representatives from the Florida PTA, Florida Parents Against Common Core, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The summit will focus on four main topics: the new Common Core education standards; the test that will replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests; the school grading system; and teacher evaluations. Even though the Florida Educational System was rated No. 5 in Ed Week, there are some serious flaws in the current system. Many of the leaders have different opinions of what needs to be done to improve the system, but there is no general consensus.

The summit is a great first step to initiate a dialogue with stakeholders, policymakers, lawmakers, and educational advocates. Florida parents and students are extremely proud of their schools and educational system, and this summit can help all the different groups get on the same page in the state. I hope that African Americans have a stake and are represented at the summit.

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