The Tampa Bay area is poised to become a statewide leader in education, state Sen. Don Gaetz told a gathering of educators and business leaders at a Wednesday luncheon hosted by the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations.
But if local school districts aren't careful, he told the group that included Hillsborough school superintendent Mary Ellen Elia, that opportunity could slip through their fingers.
"The curriculum we're offering is not based on what the business community needs," said Gaetz, who chairs the Senate Education Committee.
Also problematic, he said, is that educators haven't focused enough attention on career technical education.
The first non-educator to be elected superintendent of the Okaloosa County schools, Gaetz pointed to the district as a model of educational reform. The district was ranked 27th in the state based on FCAT scores when he took over in 2000. After introducing a comprehensive system of career technical education programs, the district rose to No. 1.