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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Is money the answer to Florida's education system?



When the Florida Board of Education meets Tuesday, its primary focus will be funding and whether there's enough of it for public education.

To prepare, board members received loads of data to ponder. (Find links to it all here.) 

Within the myriad documents are details that raise some interesting points. Consider these two:

  • Florida was 38th nationally in 2005-06 per-pupil spending, at $4,584. Florida was also 38th nationally in per-pupil spending in 2008-09 (most recent available) at $5,293.
  • Florida spent more per student on average at its F-rated schools than at schools with any other grade in 2009-10.

Does this tell us that the Sunshine State needs more money to secure academic success? Or doesn't it? Certainly Florida doesn't seem to be keeping up with the national averages, but then, if its poorest performing schools get the most, why aren't they better, if money matters so much?

The argument might then continue that money does not necessarily foster success (though it certainly can break it). If so, then what's up with the SBOE bringing back up the concept of ensuring that at least 65 percent (or 70 percent, depends who's talking) of school funds go directly to the classroom? (See Tab G on the handouts.)

Didn't that idea fall by the wayside in nearly every other state as arbitrary and practically meaningless? School officials have told the Gradebook they could massage numbers to get there easily, depending on the definition of "classroom." Do counselors count? What about media specialists? Principals?

All of this should get an airing on Tuesday as the board and its experts converse. Any advice for them as they head to the Airport Marriott?

[Last modified: Monday, August 1, 2011 12:30pm]


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