Thursday, September 24, 2009

House Democratic Office Responds To Republican Member Praise of Education Reforms

Florida House Democratic Office Communications Director Mark Hollis issued the following statement in response to today’s endorsement by Rep. John Legg, R-Port Richey, of House Democratic Caucus suggestions on how Florida can compete for federal Race to the Top education dollars.

“Florida House Democrats are committed to helping build a world-class public education system for our state. To achieve this goal, improvements are needed that deserve bipartisan support and attention from many public policymakers. It is encouraging that Representative Legg expresses willingness to work with members of both political parties on much-needed education reforms. It is disappointing, though, that he and other Florida House Republicans failed to present their own ideas or comments to the Florida Department of Education.

“For 25 days ending on Friday, the Florida Department of Education solicited public comment for Florida’s application for federal dollars under the Race to the Top initiative proposed by President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

“It is debatable how likely Florida is to receive these federal dollars without adopting reforms along the lines of those that were submitted for review last week by the Florida House Democratic Caucus staff. Earlier today, for instance, Florida Education Commissioner Eric Smith said that Florida cannot hope to win Race to the Top funds `without doing things that are bold and moving Florida forward dramatically.’ At the State Board of Education meeting in Miami, Commissioner Smith predicted: `They will not accept an application that talks about the status quo.’

“Florida House Democrats have fought for bold reforms, strong accountability measures, and adequate funding of our schools. As Representative Legg should know, many Florida House Democrats have also long advocated and filed legislation to strengthen Florida’s school accountability formula to base school assessments on the entirety of students’ work. These current and former members have noted the insufficiencies of basing all school accountability on a single test, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

“Representative Legg’s lengthy statement today includes a few statements about Florida House Democratic member votes that deserve clarification.

· Representative Legg chides Democratic members for voting against House Bill 1293. House Democratic members consistently voiced support for rigorous standards during debate on the bill. They expressed opposition, though, the bill increased the emphasis on the flawed 10th grade FCAT and because Republican members’ refused to provide additional resources to schools to help students achieve these standards.

· Representative Legg criticizes Democratic members for voting against a plan to only give salary bonuses to teachers who get prestigious National Board Certification if they teach in a low-performing school. That proposal would have forced many teachers to leave their school districts to get bonuses because there are no low-performing schools in some counties. Florida House Democrats support giving National Board and other high-quality teachers additional incentives to teach in low-performing schools while guaranteeing that high-performing schools also have high-quality teachers.

· Finally, Representative Legg chides those who opposed a bill that would have virtually eliminated protections for public school teachers under a bill that failed to consider the fairness of teacher evaluations. Representative Legg might want to inquire as to why Senate Republicans killed the bill.

“The pursuit of meaningful education reform deserves input from many public officials, and certainly from those on the front lines of education, our teachers, administrators, parents, and students. Florida House Democrats are pleased to fight for a world-class education system.”

No comments:

Post a Comment