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Press ReleaseFriday, March 26, 2010
DOE Press Office
Statement By: Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith Regarding a Summary of the Strategic Direction of Education in Florida“Today’s State Board of Education meeting offered the perfect moment to highlight the exciting direction our education system is heading in and the incredible opportunities that are on the horizon for our students, teachers and schools. In my opening comments to board members, I outlined some of the most recent successes our state has achieved and the positive movements that are underway to accelerate our academic progress and transform our education system into a model for the nation. Highlights of my comments follow:
“Florida is unique in its consistency of purpose surrounding our service to our children. From our Governor and Legislature, to the work happening in individual classrooms, there is a shared commitment to producing better outcomes for our students. Our state has been blazing a trail of educational progress across our nation and we have been able to do that based on two primary factors: strong instruction by our teachers and a focused, intentional reform effort at the state level.
“There are several things happening both here and in the nation that stand to make our progress even more profound. One of those is Senate Bill 6, which I refer to as the Informed Teacher Evaluation and Compensation bill. This legislation calls for us to significantly recognize and compensate our teachers for the good work they do on behalf of their students. Should the bill be signed into law, we will have three years to develop a fair and transparent system of evaluation that is built through collaboration and input from educators. Half of this evaluation would be based on the learning gains of a teacher’s students and the other half on valuable and informed observations of that teacher’s work in the classroom. This is not a bonus program and it is certainly not a pay cut for teachers. Instead, this is an opportunity to elevate our greatest educators and commend them for what they have been able to accomplish.
“Another exciting piece of legislation is Senate Bill 4, which I refer to as the Graduation Requirements bill. This bill will ramp up our requirements for graduation over the next several years so that our students graduate with a meaningful diploma that will allow them to compete and excel in today’s economy. Through it we will require that students take, and pass, core courses such as Geometry and Biology that will prepare them for success in college or a career. We must ensure our students do not graduate with a diploma to nowhere and this bill puts the necessary requirements in place to avoid that scenario.
“In addition to the positive efforts occurring here in Florida, there are national initiatives that we all should be energized about. Winners of the Race to the Top competition are set to be announced on Monday and Florida is in a very strong position to be named a victor. Our application and local Memorandum of Understanding are widely heralded as some of the strongest and clearest of all the applicants, and our finalist presentation last week left me feeling enthusiastic and proud of our accomplishments. Florida is also playing a significant leadership role in the Common Core State Standards initiative, which stands to elevate the curriculum standards in all states. I anticipate that these standards will move our state forward and I look forward to the work on developing an assessment system that will accurately measure every state’s progress under them.
“Florida’s longstanding, purposeful reform efforts have made our education system a focal point for the nation and our continuing actions have the potential to positively impact schools throughout the country. It’s an invigorating time to be involved in education in our state where we have a true investment from leadership and an unparalleled commitment from parents, educators and business members, all working tirelessly to create better lives and more opportunities for our children.”