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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Mitt Romney's education plan has distinct Florida flavor

All-but-nominated Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney issued his education policy paper this week along with a long awaited speech on the topic.

His plan and his team carry a strong Florida tilt.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who's been pushing his accountability model across the country, sets the tone in the foreward to Romney's paper:

"There is no one “silver bullet” solution to our nation’s educational problems, but recent experience clearly indicates what needs to be done. We must provide families with abundant school choice, among both traditional public schools and charter and online alternatives. We must set high standards for student achievement, regularly assess students’ progress toward meeting those standards, and be honest in reporting the results. Schools must be accountable for their contribution to student learning through policies that distinguish between abject failure, mediocrity, and success. ...

"What we do not need are prescriptive top-down mandates emanating from Washington D.C., which are so fashionable among many in the nation’s capital. The federal government cannot continue to spend borrowed money to prop up a failed status quo, as it has over the past four years under President Obama’s leadership. America’s federal system of government allows for a more dynamic approach to reform, with states serving as laboratories of democracy in competition with one another to provide the best education possible to their citizens. The federal government must ensure that states embrace the basic principles of expanded school choice, high standards, and effective teaching while at the same time empowering them to carve their own paths toward excellence for all students."

Backing up the message is an advisory team that includes former Florida Board of Education chairman Phil Handy, a close Jeb Bush ally, and Julio Fuentes, CEO of the Florida-based Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, a big supporter of expanding Florida school choice. 

The biggest new idea in Romney's plans is a proposal to make Title I and IDEA funding portable for students, as Fordham Institute observer Michael Petrilli writes on the Huffington Post. Is also sounds like the seeds are sown to move away from a national common curriculum even as states including Florida are steaming headlong toward implementing them. Keep watching as the debate unfolds.

[Last modified: Friday, May 25, 2012 6:32am]


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