Florida’s F on Early Childhood Education

In this morning’s Ocala Star-Banner, Amanda Ostrander from Florida Children’s Campaign and Roy Miller, the president and founder of the Children’s Campaign point to Florida policymakers poor record on early childhood education is hurting the state’s children.

…..the education debate goes on about the next silver bullet, funding and the quality elements Florida’s pre-K needs continue to be passed over.

In fact, the only legislation passed in several years involving early learning was strictly administrative — proving again Florida is better at dealing with educational system mechanics and not so much on true quality.

Isn’t this point borne out in vibrant colors when Florida leaders crow about it’s ranking in the top 10 on Education Weekly’s State Report Card.

Look closer. The unweighted grading system counts Florida’s school accountability, spending equity, and teacher accountability for quality (all “A’s” for Florida) the same level of importance as the status of K-12 achievement (D), school spending (F), and early foundations (C).

This is similar to getting the same 10 points on a test for spelling your name correctly as for answering a fact-based question on subject matter. Notice, too, it’s the overall categories of Standards, Assessments & Accountability (A), The Teaching Profession (B), and Transitions & Alignment (A) that make up for the starkly lower grades in Chance for Success (C), K-12 Achievement (C), and School Finance (D+).

Evidence is clear that true education reform can’t be built on a foundation of poor early learning quality. And, the National Institute of Early Education Research informs us that Florida’s pre-K program earns only three out of 10 quality benchmarks. To continue our education theme, that is a solid F.

Maybe the failure of Florida’s republican-led legislature to advance early childhood education is because Jeb Bush’s foundation hasn’t found a way for their paymasters to make a buck out of it.  And as Ostrander and Thomas rhetorically ask “what if the answer isn’t Just Read!, FCAT testing, Common Core curriculum, charter schools, blaming teachers for poor performance, or any of the jargon that is thrown around Tallahassee?”


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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