Florida schools: Not so bad after all?
As the St. Petersburg Times reported this morning, Education Week's annual ranking of state education quality concluded Florida was No. 10. We know that doesn't ring true to many Floridians, given what they tell us in surveys, and we know every study should be taken with a grain of salt. But given the shock value, and given the integrity of the outfit doing the ranking, it was worth some ink, wasn't it?
Most Florida newspapers ignored the report completely, and the few that didn't accentuated the negative.
An 11-paragraph story in the Tampa Tribune focused on the C grade that Florida got in school spending. An 8-paragraph blog post in the Orlando Sentinel stressed the findings for Florida's English language learners. A 4-paragraph Associated Press story said "a new study shows Florida schools are continuing to improve" but then noted the achievement gap with ELL students.
None of them mentioned Florida's overall ranking.
The coverage makes us wonder:
- Do Floridians think their schools are pathetic because they really are pathetic – or because critics keep saying they are, and newspapers seem to keep ignoring credible evidence to the contrary?
- Is it not insulting to teachers when critics keep lambasting schools as lame, when in fact there may be decent progress?
- And, would parents not be more apt to fight for their schools – at a time when school budgets are being butchered – if they felt their schools were getting better at a steady clip, rather than still being mired in the muck near Mississippi?
Gov. Crist weighed in this morning: "The Quality Counts report released today clearly indicates that Florida schools are on the right track and that our students are being prepared to compete with students across the nation."
Ron Matus, state education reporter