Putting Education Reform To The Test

Gov. Rick Scott And Florida Teacher’s Union President Meet Again

NEA Public Relations/flickr

FEA President Andy Ford

Staying true to his word, Gov. Rick Scott will sit down again this afternoon with Florida Education Association President Andy Ford.

They’ll meet in the Governor’s Office at the Capitol to talk education policy.

“This needs to be the beginning of a long series of meetings that examines the direction we’re going with public schools and the education of our children in this state,” FEA spokesman Mark Pudlow said.

“For more than a decade, there have been massive and constant changes to our neighborhood public schools – largely without the input of teachers, parents or administrators. What has been done to our public schools can’t be fixed in a single meeting.”

This meeting follows a dinner earlier this month at the Governor’s Mansion. Scott hosted Ford and a handful of other education leaders as part of his week-long “listening tour” of Florida school districts.

After the dinner, Ford said he was surprised to realize that he and the governor “don’t disagree that much” on general principles. He said, “Who can argue with the fact that every kid ought to have a great education?”

The state teacher’s union has generally not seen eye to eye with Scott or Florida’s Republican controlled Legislature. The party in power wants more independently run charter schools and access to private school vouchers for students who attend failing public schools.

Ford thinks those are questionable uses of taxpayer dollars.

As he told StateImpact Florida last week, “These schools would not necessarily give the FCAT. We would not know how their students are scoring; whether they really are teaching the courses that they’re supposed to be teaching and whether their teachers are certified or not.”

The parent advocacy group Fund Education Now remains skeptical of Scott’s motives. The group’s Kathleen Oropeza sent an email blast to subscribers criticizing Scott’sbudget signing road show.”

“Governor Scott made a lot of promises last week.,” she said. “He said he wanted to invest more money in public education.  As parents and voters, we must make sure political promises made during publicity tours match the specific actions of the man.”

Ford seems ready to listen.

Following his dinner with the governor, Ford told reporters that “only through open dialogue are we going to be able to move forward here and try to make sure that we keep the Florida public school system moving in the right direction.”


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