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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Gov. Scott: 'Great educators are priceless'



full.jpegHere is the education portion of Florida Gov. Rick Scott's State of the State address tonight, as prepared for delivery:

We also need to focus on our incredible opportunity to improve our K-through-12 education system. We now have real innovators offering a 21st century approach to education. And many of those new approaches offer better outcomes without increasing costs.

With so many Floridians out of work, and the exhaustion of one-time federal handouts, Florida educators will face challenges in managing limited resources. But our commitment to positive change must not waiver.

Let's begin by agreeing on a few basic principles.

First, that individual student learning must be the touchstone for all our decisions. Practices that improve student learning must be adopted. Practices that impair student learning must be abolished.

Second, I think we can all also agree that the single most important factor in student learning is the quality of teaching. Florida has to recruit, train, support and promote great teachers, great school principals and great school superintendents.

Great educators are priceless. Every one of us has a teacher in our past who made a lifelong difference in our lives. Educators, like other professionals, should be rewarded based on the effectiveness of their work, not the length of their professional life. That's why Florida needs to pay the best educators more and end the practice of guaranteeing educators a job for life regardless of their performance.

The third principle worth remembering is that we all improve through competition. Think of how exciting it will be when schools are recruiting our children, when every school in the state focuses on continual improvement in order to outperform every other school in attracting students. We need to expand the eligibility for opportunity scholarships to harness the power of engaged parents.

And I am calling for an increase in the number of charter schools – which are public schools that are allowed to work independently of their school board and can innovate in ways that encourage all schools to improve.

With us here today is the principal of a very successful charter school – Sonia Mitchell of Florida International Academy. This charter school moved from an "F" school to an "A" school. Ms. Mitchell attributes their success to the passion of great educators and weekly measurements of student outcomes.

And finally, we can all agree that measuring results is a key aspect of education. We must test our students, and we must evaluate our educators. Those measurements need to be fair and thoughtful, and they need to have rewards and consequences.

We must also analyze how much education money is spent in the classroom versus the amount spent on administration or capital outlays.

With these principles in mind, Florida can become the most innovative and effective place in the country to educate the workforce of the future.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 6:19am]


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