The idea of pooling resources on behalf of children is nothing really new. Groups do it all the time.
Here in Florida, the concept is taking a new direction with the formation of the Florida Learning First Alliance. The group is based on a national initiative, in which 18 education-related organizations such as the PTA and the NEA come together to advocate on behalf of high expectations, safe places to learn and community involvement.
Here in Florida, the expected organizations - associations representing school boards, administrators, superintendents, teachers and parents - are joined by some less likely participants - the Association of Counties, the League of Cities, the Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida. They had their first meeting this week.
"We're bringing together associations to have a single voice for the importance of education in Florida, to talk about issues, come together on issues and advocate on issues that make Florida a better place," said Pasco School Board vice chair Kathryn Starkey, one of the Florida School Boards Association's representatives to the group.
She noted that Florida welcomed the business community to the table, unlike other similar efforts, as part of its recognition that highly skilled and educated youngsters represent tomorrow's work force. Both business and schools have an interest in that, Starkey said. She expected the group to have much influence as it moves ahead.
"I think we'll have great outcomes for the future of education in Florida," Starkey told the Gradebook.