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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida Chamber of Commerce renews call for "no excuses" in education



Leaders of Florida's business community have issued a new call to keep pushing public schools to "raise the bar" two decades after its first report demanding an end to excuses.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce's latest version of From Excuses to Excellence, released Tuesday, reiterates the same eight goals the organization set forth in the mid-1990s:

- High standards for all students,
- Accurate assessments to measure what students know and can do,
- Challenging curricula with real world applications,
- Competent and inspired teachers,
- Leading edge instructional technology,
- Culture of continuous improvement,
- Accountability tools that measure performance of school systems, and
- Supportive communities

Chamber leaders said the state had made much progress since then. But more work remains, they added, as the state's competition is now more global, and businesses view education and employee talent as a key economic development incentive.

"Education will be the key to prosperity and resiliance for every one of today's learners," Tony Carvajal, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber Foundation, said during a media call.

To get there, he said, the business community must fight back the critics and special interest groups that keep attacking the state's accountability system and trying to reverse its programs, such as testing and school grades. Carvajal referred to efforts earlier this year to scale back Florida Standards Assessment cut scores, among other moves, but declined to call out any specific group.

(The chamber backed higher passing scores than commissioner Pam Stewart recommended.)

Instead, he said, business leaders must step up and make the case for a more competitive education system that relies upon accountability. That effort would include finding "education champions" and infusing them into school decision-making forums, such as school advisory committees and school boards.

"The business community cannot sit on the sidelines," Carvajal said.

Read the chamber's latest report for more details.

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 9, 2016 11:02am]


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