House Speaker Will Weatherford banged the opening gavel in the Florida House this morning, introducing the 60-day session with a speech heavily focused on education.
He promised the continued “pursuit of a world-class, student-centered K-12 education system in Florida.”
But he said attention must be paid to higher education as well, because “education solves problems that government cannot.”
Weatherford encouraged lawmakers to break free from a “narrow vision that has encouraged a culture of mediocrity.”
Here are more of Weatherford’s remarks on higher education, including emphasizing a high-quality online university and granting the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants access to in-state tuition rates:
“We set the stage last year with an approach that we called preeminence. It was a good idea then and it’s a good idea now.
Every university will have the same opportunity to earn more funding through high achievement. No University will have a guaranteed outcome.
But equally important, we need an innovative university that utilizes and leverages technology in a way like never before.
Universities must be challenged to think differently.
In order to do this, we need to inject a disruptive innovation into the system.
A branded, accredited, singularly focused online university will be that catalyst for change.
The demand is already here. Floridians from every walk of life can and will utilize this option as soon as we offer it.
And the best part about it is that we can offer it for a fraction of the cost. Our next generation of students won’t have to choose between being saddled with debt and getting a degree.
While we are removing barriers to upward mobility for Floridians, we must not forget a group of people who’ve been left behind.
Our nation is a nation of immigrants. Florida is a state of immigrants. But today, we’re treating some of our children born in Florida whose parents made mistakes, as second-class citizens.
They do not enjoy what every other child born in Florida receives – in-state tuition.
If you’re born in America you’re an American. And to hold any other view completely contradicts everything that our country was founded upon.
I want to thank Representatives Nunez, Trujillo, Artilles and Fullwood for working together to bring forth a bill that will put into statute what our constitution, our courts, and frankly our conscience tells us is right.
I look forward to voting yes on their bill.”