"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Sunshine State, An Albatross and Teenage Wasteland

We recently blogged about Governor Elect Rick Scott toying with the idea of providing educational vouchers to all Florida students. We wondered if he were one of the true revolutionaries in the public education arena.

He and the Florida Legislature may be partners in this educational revolution. Read this blog from The Pacific Research Institute comparing Florida's education rankings to those of California. Dr. Vicki Murray compares testing results from these two states and she details the disparities between them. She writes:

Florida pursued those reforms from the top down through state testing and from the bottom up through parental choice—and they did so with strong bipartisan support. Overall, Florida’s approach emphasized standards for schools, transparency for parents, and immediate options for students most at risk. That includes children trapped in chronically failing schools, from low-income families, from the foster-care system, and children with disabilities.

On the other coast, California has refused to adopt large scale reforms that would allow students to attend schools their parents—not bureaucrats or special interest groups—think are best. The time has come for change. California’s new crop of legislators should learn from Florida’s success and enact reforms based on equal access for all students to great teachers and high-performing schools.

Does it occur to you that it's not systems requiring more mandates, layers of bureaucracy, and billions of dollars that will allow students to truly learn? Instead of Dr. Murray's titling her piece "Lessons from Florida for California's New Legislators", I would suggest she rename it to "Lessons from Florida for California's New Legislators AND the Department of Education". If states cannot rid themselves of this albatross of an agency around their necks, at least the states should educate the Federal Government what works in their state, what type of education allows their students to succeed, and doesn't force the states into unfunded mandates that only promote more bureaucracy.

Free the students from the "Teenage Wasteland". Free the states from unfunded mandates and increasing federal control.

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