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Did FL Legislators Make the Grade?

• Mike Thomas

reportcardblogEducation reform is not a turn-key operation. You don’t pass legislation, congratulate yourself on a job well done, and walk away.

It is a work in progress. Nowhere is this more evident than in Florida. The state is a national leader in education reform, but every year still deals with a large agenda of new issues.

This year was a particularly productive one:

  • Groundbreaking legislation empowered the parents of students with disabilities to make more decisions about their children’s education. No longer can school districts deny a child the chance to earn a real diploma or attend a neighborhood school without parental signoff.
  • Charter schools will be held more accountable, and successful ones will find it easier to expand.
  • Teachers who teach Advanced Placement courses in low-performing schools will continue to receive necessary training.
  • Students will be guaranteed an effective teacher at least every other year.
  • Florida also continued on its path in bringing 21st Century digital technology into the classroom.

Effective legislation requires effective legislators. There were plenty of them this year.

Senators Andy Gardiner, John Thrasher, and Jason Brodeur championed the legislation for students with disabilities. Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Michael Bileca were instrumental in ensuring students have access to effective teachers. Sen. Legg sponsored legislation to ensure our students are truly college and career ready and Rep. Manny Diaz pushed for providing more students in Florida access to a quality, customized education.

The list of reform champions goes on and on, which is why we see continued progress in academic outcomes in Florida. You do not get ahead by standing still.

Given that the Foundation for Florida’s Future supports grades for schools, it’s only fitting that they also have grades for legislators. And so they present “Florida’s Education Report Card 2013,” the sixth annual grading of state legislators based on their votes on reform issues.

We are happy to report more A’s than F’s, but still wish all legislators would show the same progress in raising their grades as our schools have shown.

Please follow this link to learn more.

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