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Gov. Scott to push against spending cuts at Fort Myers education summit

At least one superintendent is hoping for more.

Oct. 23, 2012


Florida Gov. Rick Scott won’t be just making a token appearance at Thursday’s Market Watch Education Summit; he’ll be making news.

Scott, a featured speaker, will outline an education agenda that address new academic standards, teacher accountability, funding cuts and charter schools, according to a draft provided to the Miami Herald.

The plan, titled “Colleges and Careers 1st,” mirrors the summit’s theme: “Career and College Readiness in Southwest Florida.”

Scott wants to suspend any changes to testing unrelated to Florida’s implementation of Common Core Standards, a series of expectations children should know or demonstrate at each grade level. Implementation in 2014 coincides with the rollout of a teacher performance pay plan, new standardized tests and other initiatives.

“It’s going to be a lot more work for teachers, administrators and students,” Hendry County Superintendent Richard Murphy said Monday. “We all want to increase rigor, but the key is the timing of it all.”

School boards around the state, including Southwest Florida, adopted resolutions encouraging policymakers to reconsider their reliance on high-stakes testing.

Scott also will propose keeping the education budget at least steady. Florida increased the per-student allocation by $150 for 2012-13, but didn’t come close to restoring a $542 per-student from the prior year.

“Keeping it steady means the disaster will continue,” said Charlotte County Superintendent Doug Whittaker. “All of us hit bottom this year.

“I’ve never seen educators so angry before in my life. They’re not just frustrated; they’re angry.”

Another of Scott’s goals, according to the Herald, is providing more educational options for both schools and students. Scott wants districts to have flexibility when purchasing textbooks instead of purchasing all instructional materials through state-approved vendors. Another initiative would remove enrollment caps on successful charter schools that aren’t allow to grow even though parent interest is high.

Scott recently concluded a “listening tour” across Florida, including a stop in Fort Myers, to collect input from teachers, administrators and parent groups.

“I think the governor gets” it, Whittaker said. “I hope he does, but I don’t think the Legislature does.”

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