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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott pushes teacher testing, international trade in Miami speech



Gov. Rick Scott today jumped on good news that Florida's public school system ranks 5th in the country to call for more testing of teachers and ending their tenure.

"I'm not satisfied with fifth place," Scott said in a speech today at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's South Florida Economic Summit.

"We need to require periodic testing of teachers in the subjects they teach," he said, according to the prepared remarks. "Good teachers want to be measured, just as good athletes and good business people love competition."

Scott called Miami the "doorway to Latin America" and veered a bit off the prepared remarks to note his role in international trade.

"It’s my job to get people from overseas to be buying things from here," he said.)

Here is a copy of Scott's prepared remarks:


It’s great to be in South Florida surrounded by so many entrepreneurs and business leaders who are on the cutting edge of our economy.

This region truly is the doorway to Latin America, and Florida has a great opportunity to expand its economy. 

I know how valuable your time is, so I just want to give you a quick outline of my plan to make Florida the place to do business, whether you want to expand here in the United States or around the world.

Over the next 10 minutes or so, I want to share three thoughts with you, and then I’m going to take some questions.

As you all know, I campaigned on turning Florida’s economy around and creating 700,000 jobs in seven years.

There are lots of ways we can do that. I’m going to talk about three things we can do right now to fix our economy and build an environment for job creation.

One of those things I’ve already done – last week, in my first official act as governor, I signed executive order 11-01, freezing all new rules and regulations.

Every government agency with rulemaking or contracting authority has been ordered to halt all new regulations and is not allowed to move forward on any new rulemaking without explicit approval from my office.

But that’s only the beginning.

I also implemented a review process that basically asks one key question – how will this rule or regulation impact job creation in Florida?

And if the regulations are harmful to job creation, guess what?

We get rid of them.

By limiting government, we can create an attractive environment for businesses to create jobs.

But there’s a lot of other ways we can limit government beyond just freezing it in place.

That’s the second thing on my list to talk to you about today.  We’re going to hold government accountable.

Like you, I know what it takes to balance budgets and make payroll.

I know what it’s like to be accountable to the employees who depend on you for a paycheck.

In business, you don’t get a bigger budget if you go into debt the year before, or you miss all your performance targets. You just get fired.

But government hardly ever is held accountable.  The budget just keeps growing, no matter how badly government performs.

It’s time we hold our state government accountable. 

A simple way to do that is to hold the line on spending, especially when government keeps growing while the economy is stagnant.

One of my campaign promises was to get rid of the state airplanes.

I promised I would do it, and I know that voters would hold me accountable for it. 

So I’m happy to report that both state airplanes are listed for sale right now, which will save taxpayers $2.4 million per year.

But there’s a lot more areas where we can hold government accountable.

As governor, I’m going to require what I call "accountability budgeting" that requires every state agency to justify every dollar they spend.

Then we’re going to set clear, achievable goals and we’ll measure their performance.

Measuring performance is the key to success. It’s going to be very important to establish the right measurements…

But once we do, we’ll enhance and build upon the programs that work, and we’ll get rid of things that don’t.

If we set clear goals and we take the right measurements, it will quickly be obvious which programs work and which ones need to fixed or scrapped.

Once we know that, we can make adjustments, build on success and learn from the things that didn’t go well.

The third thing we need to do right away is continue to improve our education system so that Florida has the best educated work force.

Just today Education Week magazine has a report that said Florida now ranks fifth in the nation under certain metrics.

Our students, teachers and parents deserve some credit for continuing to improve against the other 49 states. 

But I’m not satisfied with fifth place. And I know that the best teachers here in Florida aren’t satisfied with fifth place either. 

That’s because we all know there are things we can do better.

We need to require periodic testing of teachers in the subjects they teach.

Good teachers want to be measured, just as good athletes and good businesspeople love competition.

It’s absurd that we wouldn’t require teachers to demonstrate their expertise in the subjects they are teaching to our children.

Just like we hold government accountable, we should also hold teachers accountable, and this is one simple way to do that.

We also need to eliminate teacher tenure so that we can replace bad teachers.

Good teachers know they don’t need tenure. There is no reason to have it except to protect those that don’t perform as they should.

If we do that, and we give parents more options for educating their kids, we’ll be well on our way to fixing Florida’s economy.

So those three things: (1) weeding out unecessary regulations, (2) holding government accountable, and (3) providing the best educated workforce, form the backbone of my plan to turn Florida around.

Last week I “got to work” on implementing all three of those things…

Moments after I was inaugurated, as I mentioned a few minutes ago, I signed the executive order to freeze regulations and created the Office of Regulatory Reform to weed out unececcessary regulations.

And in just a couple of weeks we’ll be rolling out our proposal to balance the state budget, which will include accountability budgeting principles so that taxpayers know how we’re spending their money and what they have to show for it.

And finally I had the honor of traveling with Michelle Rhee, who’s known nationally as an education reformer.  She and I visited a charter school in Miami that proved money isn’t a barrier to student performance.

Good students just need good teachers.

Good teachers need the support of good parents.

And good parents just need flexible options so that their children can receive an education that is tailored just for them.

We are off to a great start moving Florida’s economy, our state government, and our schools in the right direction, but we have much more work to do.

I look forward to unveiling my proposal for balancing the state’s budget in the near future.

In closing, I want to commit to you:  Every day, I re-dedicate myself and our team to our mission to make Florida the jobs state and to get Floridians back to work.


[Last modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 5:22pm]


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