Governor's Race to the Top team gets marching orders
During a one-hour conference call, members of Gov. Charlie Crist's Race to the Top working group laid the groundwork for coming up with an education reform plan that they hope can give Florida a win in the second round of the grant competition.
Key to the effort will be collaboration among all stakeholders to find bold but acceptable reforms, chairman Alberto Carvalho stressed repeatedly. He encouraged members to have discussions with all interested parties in their local communities in advance of the group's next session.
Toward the end of the session, state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, sought to press the point home by pointedly asking Florida Education Association president Andy Ford "what can we focus on specifically in the application to get buy-in from your team."
Ford said he had a list of items that he believed could be (and at one point were) agreed upon to get closer to that goal. Among them were a "cafeteria model" for districts to pick and choose among the possible reforms, and a sunset clause to revert to the previous contracts if the Race to the Top money is no longer available to pay for them.
The working group plans to meet next at 9:30 a.m. April 28 in the Florida Cabinet meeting room. It will be a full day affair until the work is done. "Hopefully it will still be Wednesday," Carvalho said.
The resulting memorandum of understanding would go to school districts on April 30, with a due date of May 25. The state's application has to be in to the USDOE by June 1.
"We will make this application a winner," Carvalho said.
For more details, the governor's office has set up a new Race to the Top website. It is www.flgov.com/racetothetop.