StudentsFirst to focus on Florida finances, not parent trigger, for 2014
For two years, Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst organization has loomed large in Florida's debate over whether to adopt "parent trigger" legislation, which would let parents choose new management systems for their failing schools.
That's changing in 2014. Although StudentsFirst still advocates parent empowerment initiatives, it has determined that Florida needs something else more. In its new national report card, the organization gives Florida a C for parent issues, but a D+ for spending wisely and governing well.
It's that area of spending wisely that StudentsFirst wants Florida lawmakers to focus on. Its state executive director, Nikki Lowery, said the group will press for the development of a meaningful, school-by-school return on investment report that ties how money is spent to resulting academic performance.
"That doesn't mean that parent trigger isn't worthwhile," she said. "Sometimes, it's all about timing."
The Florida Senate has killed parent trigger in each of the past two sessions. This time out, both Senate and House leaders have told the Gradebook that they don't even expect the measure to be filed.
Even with its low marks in some areas, Florida continues to rank second nationally behind Louisiana in the StudentsFirst evaluation of state education policies. (The group does not look at actual student results.) The state does particularly well in the area of "elevate the teaching profession," which includes a redesign of evaluations to include student peformance, and basing pay on performance rather than on degrees and seniority.