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PRESS RELEASE

December 4, 2006

Kristy Campbell
(850) 488-5394
Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam
(212) 788-2958
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush and New York City Mayor Bloomberg Announce Joint Effort to Lobby Congress for Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind Act
New York City leaders study state's education reforms during visit to Florida

MIRAMAR — Governor Jeb Bush and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today visited Miramar Elementary School in Broward County to learn about the school's success under Florida's "A+" accountability system. They were joined by New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, Florida State Board of Education Chairman F. Philip Handy, Florida Department of Education Commissioner John L. Winn and Florida Association of District School Superintendents Chief Executive Officer Bill Montford. During the visit, Governor Bush and Mayor Bloomberg reaffirmed their continued partnership to actively participate in the reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

"Florida and New York City have embraced principled education reform by setting high standards and accountability for students, measuring and publicly reporting how students are performing and providing rewards and consequences for results," said Governor Bush. "I look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Bloomberg as we advocate for reform regarding the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act."

Recently, Governor Bush and Mayor Bloomberg addressed more than 400 members and guests of the Association for a Better New York in New York regarding improvements to America's public schools and NCLB. Both leaders lauded the accountability measures in the law, but advocated for enhancements that would ensure student achievement is more effectively and practically promoted across the nation.

"Under Governor Bush's leadership, Florida has become a pace-setter in education reform," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Florida's experience proves that accountability is critical to making meaningful progress in student achievement. If you set high standards, empower school leaders and hold them accountable, you will make significant gains in student performance and begin to narrow the intolerable achievement gap. This is the spirit embodied in No Child Left Behind. Governor Bush and I will work together to persuade Congress to make a good law even better, so that we truly leave no child behind."

The group today toured Miramar Elementary School and received a presentation from Principal Philip Bullock regarding the importance of school grades, testing, accountability, data-driven decision making, rising student achievement and closing the achievement gap. Miramar Elementary School has made tremendous gains closing the achievement gap for its students under both Florida's accountability system and NCLB. The school moved its grade from a "D" during the 1998-1999 school year to an "A" this year and has earned Annual Yearly Progress status during the last four years. Miramar Elementary School has 70 percent of its student eligible for Free and Reduced Priced Lunch and its minority rate is 96 percent.

"Miramar Elementary School is a shining example of how challenging students to achieve academic success shatters the economic and racial barriers that for too long have served as an excuse for failure," said Chairman Handy. "All students must be encouraged and provided the opportunity realize their full potential."

"Miramar Elementary has been highly successful under Governor Bush's A+ Plan for Education due to all staff working collaboratively together to meet the needs of all students," said Miramar Elementary Principal Bullock. "The A+ Plan has encouraged teachers to use data to drive their instruction, and has given my incredible staff the focus needed to ensure all students are successful."

Florida and New York City are leaders in promoting accountability and high standards in education. As Congress begins to consider reauthorization of NCLB, Governor Bush and Mayor Bloomberg propose refining four key areas of the law to more effectively serve students and teachers:

  • Use the National Assessment of Educational Progress — also known as the nation's report card as a benchmark for evaluating state standards. Since the NAEP test is administered in all 50 states, using the NAEP test would offer the best means to provide continuity nationwide without replacing state standards with a single national standard.
  • Recognize the progress made by each individual student, encouraging schools to improve the performance of all students.
  • Adopt a tiered grading system which recognizes the degrees of progress within each school — rather than just labeling a school passing or failing. Differentiating between a school that prepares 90 percent of its students and one that only prepares 10 percent of them will strengthen accountability.
  • Ensure teachers are qualified, but also ensure they are performing well and being paid accordingly.

"Florida's reforms serve as a road map for school districts nationwide," said New York City Schools Chancellor Klein. "If we are to turn around our schools, particularly those that educate poor and minority children, we must move from a culture of excuse to a culture of accountability, with empowered leaders holding themselves, teachers, and students to high expectations and high standards."

"I am delighted to expand our partnership with New York City. We share many challenges and appreciate their desire to see how our reforms play out at the ground level," said Florida Department of Education Commissioner Winn. "We have much to learn from one another."

During the event, Governor Bush highlighted Florida's successful education reforms:

  • Data-driven decision-making shapes strong education policies. By measuring student progress, parents, educators and policymakers can make informed decisions to best serve the needs of students.
  • Students rise to meet the challenge of higher expectations. Since setting clear expectations for students and encouraging them to rise to the challenge, Florida's students have made strides in achievement. Three out of four third grade students — including twice as many African-American and Hispanic students — read at or above grade level.
  • Third grade retention helps students succeed in the future. Students who struggle to read at grade level in the third grade are retained and given intense reading remediation so they have the basic skills necessary for success in all subjects. Data shows that, on average, retained students enter the fifth grade with higher levels of academic proficiency than students who were socially promoted.
  • All students are capable of success. All of Florida's students — minorities, Limited English Proficient students and students with disabilities — have shown improvements in learning on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
  • More education funding than ever before. Today, nearly one-third of Florida's annual budget is spent on education. Since 1999, funding has increased by $7.7 billion, more than $7,000 per student.
  • All subjects are important to a successful education system. Students must be armed with knowledge of the core subjects to succeed in any subject. Art, music and other subjects also prepare students for life. In 1999-2000, 45 percent of elementary students were enrolled in an art course and 48 percent were enrolled in a music course. In 2004-05, 61 percent of elementary students were enrolled in an art course and 66 percent were enrolled in a music course.
  • High school reform for 21st century students. Under Governor Bush's A++ Plan for Education, middle and high school students will have more control over their future. Students will choose a major area of interest and take elective courses that range from mathematics to dance so students can begin to pursue their aspirations in high school.

"The Superintendents of Florida appreciate Governor Bush's tremendous leadership in education reform that is creating new opportunities and raising student achievement in our schools," said Florida Association of District School Superintendents Chief Executive Officer Bill Montford. "We look forward to helping make recommendations that will improve the No Child Left Behind Act."

For more information on Florida's rising student achievement, please visit www.myflorida.com.