Blog: The Educated Reporter

Good Read: Budget Woes Slow Florida’s Education Progress

We hear a lot about Florida being a bellwether for aggressive education form — multiple states are implementing similar models, including holding back students who aren’t reading at grade level by the end of the third grade. But as the Sun-Sentinel reports, it’s not always sunny in the Sunshine State’s schools.

After a decade of steady and measurable growth, Florida’s students made no gains on the most recent round of the National Assessment of Education Progress, known as “The Nation’s Report Card.” The steady progress on NAEP had been one of the key hooks where conservative education reformers had been hanging their hats. (On a related note, NAEP scores for 21 of the largest urban districts will be made public Wednesday.)

According to reporters Kathleen Haughney and Leslie Postal, state educators blame budget cuts for stagnant test scores, especially among minority students. Florida districts have “laid off staff, put off teacher raises, closed schools and reduced academic offerings,” Haughney and Postal report.

Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, told the Sun-Sentinel that “in the education arena right now, everything is revolving around the budget — or lack thereof … I think we’re just trying to hold on.”

The Sun-Sentinel story should serve as a reality check for anyone looking to Florida for inspiration, including lawmakers.