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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Florida gets a "F" for education spending

And this is with deep cuts on the horizon. -cpg

From the editorial page

Florida scored an impressive fifth place in the new national report ranking the quality of public education in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Overall, the Quality Counts report, conducted annually by the Educational Project in Education, which publishes Education Week, gave Florida a B minus, giving it high marks for strong academic standards, school accountability measures, and for showing big improvements on national tests and Advance Placement exams.

The news drew cheers from Tallahassee and accolades from education-policy observers. Yet no one is suggesting our schools are where they need to be to ensure as many children as possible are ready for the 21st-century workplace.

A closer look at the Quality Counts categories -- from prekindergarten enrollment to student performance on national benchmarks to graduation rates -- and other data and some troublesome realities are evident.


For instance, Florida's graduation rate is 44th in the nation. The Sunshine State received an F -- again -- on education spending. Our middle schoolers rank 35th in math and 30th in reading nationally. And our 12th-graders underperformed in both math and reading.

And for all its high marks for academic standards and accountability, equity, improvement, test scores and teacher training, Florida ranks 24th in current achievement among the states.

While improvement, equity and good processes are laudable, Florida continues have difficulty when it comes to the bottom line.

For those who focus on results, students need to graduate at or near the top of the national list, not in the middle or near the bottom. Students need to consistently perform well on the gamut of subjects.

Florida -- at a time when legislators and the governor are looking for ways to limit education costs -- must find a way to bring up its Grade F spending. No amount of advanced process or innovative thinking can transform Florida into a result-oriented education leader if the state is too cheap to make that a priority.

So, while bringing home a B minus suggests Florida is making progress in education reform, there is much work to be done if the future is to hold hope for our state's students.

A B minus just is not good enough and may not be as good as it would seem.

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