Putting Education Reform To The Test

Commissioner: Schools Need Money to Maintain Improvement

Florida Department of Education

Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson

Florida’s falling rank on a nation education survey is evidence lawmakers need to increase school funding, state education officials said Thursday morning.

Florida fell to 11th from 5th on the annual “Quality Counts” rankings released by Education Week this morning. Florida was ranked lower in both academic achievement and financing in the survey.

Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, has asked the GOP-controlled Legislature to add $1 billion to the school budget this year.

“We know that our educational system has been strained by the economic downturn,” education commissioner Gerard Robinson said in a statement. “The additional investment in a high-quality education will not show up immediately, but it will be a factor in our success as we move forward.”

Florida has cut school spending by more than 18 percent since the Great Recession began in 2008, including $1.3 billion in the current budget year. About 40 percent of Scott’s proposed funding increase would simply pay for the rising number of students and replace declining property tax revenues.

Scott has asked lawmakers to cut health care payments to hospitals by $2 billion in order to pay for the additional school money, which has drawn opposition from some lawmakers.

Florida earned praise by rising to 5th in Education Week‘s rankings last year, up from 34th in 2007.

Robinson noted Florida earned high marks for accountability and is one of 10 states linking teachers to a student’s performance. Scott offered only a brief response to the new rankings.

“Florida’s education system ranks among the best in the nation, but we still face some challenges.  I’m confident we will continue to improve,” Scott said in the statement.


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