Welcome to the EdFly Blog.
My presence here is the result of a mental journey that began more than 10 years ago. At the time I was a newspaper columnist and skeptical of most everything linked to Republicans, including then Gov. Jeb Bush and his overhaul of public education.
One column I wrote contained the headline: “Jeb Bush earns an F for his school reforms.’’
That earned a sharp rebuke from Gov. Bush, who wrote a letter taking me to task for being “mean-spirited’’ and “misleading.’’
In the world of Florida newspapers, that was a badge of honor.
But I am a contrarian, even with myself.
And so I began delving into the details of education reform. I looked at research, testing, school grades and school choice. I looked at Florida’s progress on national assessments.
I took the FCAT.
Education became an addictive topic.
The more I learned, the more I understood that reform was not a plot to destroy public schools.
It was a plot to ensure that children who had long been neglected by education bureaucracies finally got a fair shake.
I saw schools I never knew existed on the front page because they received F’s from the state. And then I saw district officials react accordingly, pouring resources into them. A few years later the same schools appeared on the front page again, this time with beaming teachers and students celebrating A’s.
I saw the reading scores of low-income kids trending up and the achievement gap trending down.
From that point on, I could not write enough about the reform movement.
I have watched it grow from an incubator in Florida to a national, bi-partisan movement.
Education truly is in the midst of a revolution. Digital learning. School choice. Common Core State Standards. A school population that increasingly is minority-majority. A world that is passing us by on international assessments in science and math.
The challenge is daunting and exciting, and the role of America in the 21st Century very much hangs in the balance.
You only get so many chances in life to earn a living working on your true passion.
And so here I am.
Talk to you soon.
About the author
Mike Thomas @MikeThomasTweet
Mike Thomas serves in the communications department, writing editorials and speeches. Prior to joining the Foundation, Mike worked for more than 30 years as a journalist with Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel. He has written investigative projects, magazine feature stories, humor pieces, editorials and local columns. He won several state and national awards, and was named a finalist in the American Society of New Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary/Column Writing in 2010. As a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, he wrote extensively about education reform, becoming one of its chief advocates in the Florida media. Mike graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in political science and journalism. His wife is a teacher and he has two children in public schools. Contact Mike at Mike@excelined.org