Why are three dozen parents, teachers, principals, business leaders and others spending three days in Clearwater talking about education?
That’s what reporters asked interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart about this week’s summit called by Gov. Rick Scott.
During a break Monday, Stewart took questions from reporters. What exactly did she hope to accomplish? Stewart said she’s here to listen, but it isn’t clear what else might come from the three-day meeting.
Here’s an excerpt of the Q & A:
Q: What kind of consensus are you trying to reach? And what are you planning on telling the governor about this event?
A: It certainly is a great opportunity to bring everyone together. I’m so appreciative to Gov. Scott that he has provided this opportunity, but his focus is on education and he believes that this is such an important opportunity to bring everyone together and to hear from everyone.
And what we plan to gain is to listen, to hear what everyone has to say, to hear what’s most important, how we want to focus on Florida’s students, moving the bar, moving ahead and keeping the focus on education and doing the right thing for our students.
Q: But by putting it into that context are you then suggesting that we’re undecided at this point in time about some steps we need to take in the near future?
A: I think that we are very decisive. I think that we are focused on moving the bar forward. I think there are some things that we want to take a closer look at and make sure we’re on the right track and to make sure we’re moving the needle forward for all of our students in Florida.
Q: What did the governor ask you to do over the next three days?
A: The governor is asking that we focus on those four important priorities with standards, the assessments aligned, school grades and teacher evaluation and to listen to folks, to hear what folks have to say, to hear what’s important to everyone as we move forward and try to do what we can for Florida’s students.
Q: Is the fact that this was put together so quickly Indicative that maybe there’s a thought that maybe there’s a little bit of a crisis with everything that’s happened this summer?
A: I think the fact that we put it together so quickly is the focus that the governor is very, very engaged in education and sees this as something very important. And so we’re going to take a look at all of this and make sure we’re doing the right thing?
Q: Is it too much to suggest that you’re looking for a common road map?
A: I think we want to have a clear road map. I think that’s important. And I think to make sure that we have a good road map that we know where we want to go with our students it’s important that we listen to everyone. And so we’ve certainly pulled the right stakeholders in the room and are doing what we can to make sure we’re listening to everyone.