January 3, 2011

FILLING W'S SHOES:

Accountability Is Working in Florida's Schools: In 1998, nearly half of its fourth-graders were functionally illiterate. Today, 72% of them can read. (Jeb Bush, 1/03/11, WSJ)

Florida schools that earn an A or improve by a letter grade are rewarded with cash—up to $100 per pupil annually. If a public school doesn't measure up, families have an unprecedented array of other options: public school choice, charter schools, vouchers for pre-K students, virtual schools, tax-credit scholarships, and vouchers for students with disabilities.

Choice is the catalytic converter here, accelerating the benefits of other education reforms. Almost 300,000 students opt for one of these alternatives, and research from the Manhattan Institute, Cornell and Harvard shows that Florida's public schools have improved in the face of competition provided by the many school-choice programs.

Florida's experience busts the myth that poverty, language barriers, absent parents and broken homes explain failure in school. It is simply not true. Our experience also proves that leadership, courage and an unwavering commitment to reform—not demographics or demagoguery—will determine our destiny as a nation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 3, 2011 3:36 PM
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