Public schools are the foundation of our democracy; they give all children a chance, no matter their background, no matter their zip code.
Please, legislators, make our children your first priority in your grand budget bargain.
We’re charged with providing a first class education for all, but with current budget projections, we’ll barely stay afloat. We know you can do better and the public will support you when you do.
Those of us who have children and grandchildren are awestruck by the opportunities now available in our public schools. Students today take rigorous college courses that were beyond most of our wildest dreams when we went to high school.
Now please make other dreams possible. As you know, many Florida families are facing significant challenges, and they bring those challenges with them into our public schools.
Research shows that income level is the surest indicator of success in school. Our D and F schools are not “failure factories”; they better resemble emergency centers. These schools don’t need labels; they need help.
- If you have $200 million to invest in “Schools of Hope” (corporate charter schools), let local school boards compete for those funds so we can create turn-around schools. We have been anxious to pilot ideas such as wrap-around services to assist families with medical and other needs. Actual resources to do this at our existing low-performing schools would be a godsend. Think globally, but please invest locally.
- Vote for current proposals that seek relief from the over-testing of our children and the convoluted teacher evaluation system known as VAM. That would help student, teacher and parent morale immensely.
- You’ve heard from superintendents around the state that Florida is facing an alarming teacher retention and shortage problem. Florida ranks near the bottom in average teacher salary. Treat and pay teachers as professionals and they’ll both stay and join the ranks.
- Don’t adopt “proficiency” language that could raise the passing score once again and artificially turn hundreds more schools into D and F schools.
- To make a lasting difference, fully fund Pre-K education. That would be an investment that would pay terrific dividends for our kids and state forever.
Please stand firm on a responsible budget for Florida’s students and families. Public schools need your support more than ever; don’t forsake them in their hour of need.
Rosanne Wood represents District 2 on the Leon County School Board. This piece represents her personal opinion and not that of the school board.
Tallahassee Democrat My View, April 30, 2017