Florida continues the march of success

Patrick Gibbons

Political pundit Jon Ralston recently criticized gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid’s (D) market-oriented education reform package. Reid correctly identified the problems with public education – it is bureaucratically controlled, micromanaged, uncompetitive and unaccountable.

Basically, Reid proposes addressing the shortcomings by giving schools more autonomy and then holding them accountable to empowered parents, who can pick among competing public schools. It is a plan that Democrats, Independents and Republicans should embrace – the ideas work.

Ralston criticizes the plan because 1) he doesn’t seem to like the idea of empowering parents with choice, and 2) Reid didn’t talk about raising taxes. Ralston doesn’t seem to want to see policies that stray from his own left-wing orthodoxy.

Frankly, raising taxes is not education reform. Reid is telling us we should use resources more effectively, and Ralston is saying we should simply use more resources. Whether he intends to or not, Ralston basically says, “Oh yes, we can babysit your kids for $11,000 a year, but if you want them to actually get an education, you’ll just have to pay more.”

The fact is, spending more money hasn’t worked in the past, and it won’t work in the future. That is why we need serious reform.

Fortunately, we have as an example the state of Florida, which continues to prove that genuine reform works. The 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress report shows Florida continues its march of success. Nevada? Err, not so much.

Florida’s Hispanic students now tie or best the statewide average for all students of 30 other states (including Nevada) on the NAEP fourth-grade reading exam – up from 15 states two years ago. Florida’s black students now tie or best the statewide average for all students of eight states (including Nevada), up from two states two years ago. Even Florida’s low-income students best the statewide average of all Nevada’s students and beat or tie students from 13 other states.

Is there any doubt now that education needs to be seriously overhauled?

*Florida’s low-income students outscore the statewide average of all Nevada students.

*Florida’s Hispanic students outscore the statewide average of all Nevada students.

*Florida’s African American students tie the statewide average of all Nevada students.

Learn more about Florida’s reform efforts in NPRI’s report, “Failure Is No Longer an Option