Florida Council of 100 Uses Sketchy “Skills” Data to Justify Common Core


Tampa Bay Times reporter Danny Valentine sought out Florida leaders for quotes in the aftermath of the state’s poor PISA outcomes. Among them were the Florida Council of 100.

Susan Pareigis, president and CEO of the Florida Council of 100, said in an email that the PISA results translate directly into a larger talent gap in the economy. She cited recent numbers showing that roughly 70 percent of first-time Florida college students need remediation in at least one subject area.

“This means that finding skilled workers is still tough,” she said.

Pareigis’ statement serves as a double-down on what Florida Council of 100 chair Marshall Criser III made last month in the Miami Herald.

Education is critical to spurring the state’s economic prosperity. Florida’s business community knows this perhaps better than most. Without a skilled workforce, AT&T and employers across the state cannot compete nationally or internationally. That’s bad for business, bad for Florida and bad for Floridians.

Unfortunately, Florida employers face a skills gap in the state — an urgent shortage of a resource as basic as food, more valuable than gold and in higher global demand than oil. According to a study conducted by the Florida Council of 100, Florida businesses spend an estimated $3.5 billion each year training their employees in the basic skills they should have learned before entering the workforce.     

The Florida Standards, our version of the Common Core State Standards as adopted by our state and 44 others a few years ago, give our schools an ambitious but reachable target to help close this gap. They focus on the key areas of mathematics and English language arts and help ensure that our high school graduates are prepared to go to college or enter the workforce and compete in the global marketplace.

What sort of skills are Pareigis and Criser talking about that “Florida businesses spend an estimated $3.5 billion each year training their employees in the basic skills they should have learned before entering the workforce?”

Is Criser  misrepresenting  business and professional training and inservices that are tax write-offs?  The number he cites is so astronomical, he needs to tell Floridians how the Council of 100 compiled the data.  Moreover, he needs to specify which skills he’s talking about. I find it hard to believe that businesses are having math, reading and writing classes. Nor would they cost that much. And how will implementation of Common Core give kids those skills and cut down on those business cost?

Criser doesn’t say and the rest of his assertions about Common Core are unsupported. He makes no mention of the costs that taxpayers will have to bear to implement Common Core.

There have always been blurred lines between Jeb Bush’s two foundations, Criser’s Council of 100 and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Floridians should be concerned that Criser will be the next chancellor of Florida’s university system. As the state’s top post-secondary educators he’ll need to first serve the interests of the state’s schools and it’s students. He’s not demonstrating that now.

About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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