Bud Chiles: "Nobody believes" high ranking for Florida schools
Education Week surely didn't intend this, but its latest Quality Counts report - which put Florida's education system at No. 8 nationally - has hit a nerve. The group Worst to First, led by Bud Chiles, son of former Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles, trashed it late yesterday with the release of student videos mocking the report's conclusions.
Chiles couldn't be reached by The Gradebook when the report was being released three weeks ago. But he called yesterday to say that despite what it says, the truth is this: Florida schools are bad bad bad - and everybody knows it.
"I don't think Education Week would want their study characterized as the governor (Charlie Crist) says, that we're eighth in the quality of education compared to all 50 states," Chiles said. "All you have to do is walk into a public school in any community and nobody believes that."
"It doesn't add up," he continued. "You can't tell parents that. You can't tell school kids that. There is an overwhelming amount of statistics that we're at or near the bottom with these indicators and not near the top."
By Education Week's accounting, Florida comes in at No. 7 on the K-12 achievement portion of its analysis, based mostly on 2007 data. The newspaper looked at graduation rates (based on its own formula, not Florida Department of Educataion numbers); Advanced Placement scores; and scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, better known as the "nation's report card." It looked not only at raw scores and rates, but at how quickly those scores and rates are improving relative to other states. Overall, the paper gave Florida low marks for the "status" of its K-12 achievement, but high marks for accelerating in the right direction.
Chiles, who has been almost literally following in his legendary father's footsteps lately, still wasn't buying it: "They need to spend a whole lot more time where I've been if that's their understanding of reality," he said. He said Florida citizens wouldn't buy it either: "They've seen the outcomes at their local level and in their communities go drastically down in the past 10 years."