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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

BOE member: Florida schools need more money, teacher reforms

Martinez photo If you think Florida’s education debates fall into predictable ruts, you’ll like this 9-page white paper from Florida Board of Education member Roberto Martinez. Martinez offers dozens of recommendations for school reform that will give the usual suspects something to love and hate, according to a copy sent to fellow board members and obtained this afternoon by The Gradebook.

Florida needs to pay teachers better, writes Martinez, a former U.S. attorney who is close to both Gov. Charlie Crist and former Gov. Jeb Bush. But it also needs to reform tenure, change the salary schedule, enforce the differentiated pay law and create a performance pay plan “that works.” It should require professional development for teachers not making student gains. It should pass a law that “provides authority to the Superintendents, with the consent of the Commissioner, to remove non-performing teachers at schools in an academic emergency.”

Florida’s reforms also need more money, Martinez says. “We have too many significantly underfunded schools,” he writes. But instead of taking his word for it, he suggests the Board of Education annually review Florida’s school funding to make sure it’s enough to meet “the goals of a world class education.”

“There are certain essential resources and services that every school should have in order to meet world class standards,” he writes. He recommends that Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith, in consultation with national experts and the Legislature’s research arm, come up with a list of those essential resources and use the resources found in the state’s best magnet schools as a guide.

Martinez’s other recommendations tackle everything from voluntary pre-kindergarten to reforming the FCAT and school grading. He wants them considered at the BOE board meeting in September.

“Doing one or a few of these would make some difference in children’s lives and futures,” he concludes. “But if Florida is truly serious about the education and future of our children, we need to have a profound commitment to the great range of items I’ve outlined and make them happen. We should not seek to make gradual, marginal changes around the edges. We must make fundamental transformational reforms, and provide the necessary resources sustained over time to make the reforms succeed.”

- Ron Matus, state education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:27am]


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