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PRESS RELEASE

November 16, 2001

CONTACT: Lauren Cain
Director of Communications
850-201-7406

Statement from Florida Board of Education Secretary Jim Horne Regarding the Kick-off of the Education Excellence for Florida Constitutional Amendment Initiative

Senator Graham's initiative is an effort to throw Florida backward in time to an outdated system of governance that Floridians have rejected because it failed our students and created excessive layers of bureaucracy. It is time to move Florida ahead and address what we can become, not where we have been.

Higher education in Florida is a vital resource, one that should be shared with and work in collaboration with all other levels of education. Florida does not need a buffer like the Board of Regents to protect higher education; it needs a bridge to enable more Floridians to access its greatest gift: lifelong learning.

Florida's efforts to transition to a seamless, student-centered education governance structure are well underway. Senator Graham's initiative would return Florida to an era of governance when delivery systems operated in isolation, when the needs of the system were put ahead of the needs of the student, and when limited state resources were not directed to overall state education priorities.

The voters of Florida voiced their support of a new way of education governance in 1998, calling for greater accountability and more coordination. There is no question that the system needed to change to address serious problems in our state. The old, segmented way of education delivery worked for a time. But in today's world, where students must earn more than a high school diploma for real-world success, we can't afford to isolate students in separate education boxes. We have to change the system to bring education to the students.

The success of Florida's universities is very dependent on the quality of education in public schools and community colleges. The only way to achieve greater coordination and communication is to break down the obsolete governance barriers that separated the systems and presented hurdles to student achievement.

The bottom line: Senator Graham's initiative is obsolete and unnecessary. Florida currently has a constitutional education governance board for all of education, it has boards of directors at each college and university, and it has a structure that promotes greater cooperation and a better use of educational resources that put students first.