Rick Scott on school choice, funding

Capping his week-long education “listening tour,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott had dinner last night with Florida Education Association President Andy Ford and other teachers union officials. Tucked into this Palm Beach Post blog post about the first-ever get-together was this quote from Scott:

“I believe parents ought to have choice, I believe that’s good for them,” Scott said. “I believe in the public school system. I grew up in the public school system. It was good for me. The teachers had a dramatic, positive impact on the my life….Is choice good? Yeah. But let’s make sure we do it the right way. Is competition good? Sure, but let’s make sure we do it the right way.”

Without further details, it’s hard to know what Scott was suggesting, if anything (but who could disagree with being thoughtful about school choice?). For what it’s worth, it joins other interesting word choices from Scott in recent weeks, including one about “teaching to the test” and another about working with teachers.

After the dinner, Scott issued a statement saying he wanted to maintain if not increase state funding for education:

“In our dinner tonight, I told the FEA that as we continue to develop our education agenda we are going to at a minimum sustain current state funding for education in the next budget and depending on the state’s economic outlook, aim to increase education funding where we can improve student outcomes.
“Our goal is to better prepare students for college and careers and our policies in the next budget and the next legislative session will be designed around that.
“We look forward to working more with these leaders here today – and all the parents, students, teachers, business community members and other educators throughout the state – in the weeks and months ahead as we finalize our education policy.”

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at rmatus@stepupforstudents.org or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at facebook.com/redefinedonline.