Florida Governor Rick Scott and Education Commissioner Pam Stewart host a roundtable at Pinedale Elementary School to hear teachers and parents express concerns about the state of education in Florida.
There was a buzz around Pinedale Elementary School Florida Governor Rick Scott met with teachers, parents and even first graders who had just finished their school day.
The Governor kicked off his week-long education based “listening tour” in Jacksonville today, taking the time to meet with parties involved in Florida’s education system to speak with them about what could be done differently.
While the media was not allowed in the roundtable session with either parents or teachers (the Governor’s Press Office cited concerns on student privacy), I was able to catch up with the Governor, as well as a few teachers and the school’s principal to find out what the goals need to be for Northeast Florida and statewide.
Standardized testing proved to be one of the big topics of concern.
“If we’re gunna measure something, it can’t just be teaching to a test,” Scott says.
He says measurement works, but he understands the concerns raised about the system as it stands, and how narrowly tailored teaching can become when benchmarks like the FCAT are weighted so heavily.
“Once that test is over and they get in to the real world, then what,” says English and Language Arts teacher Steven Walden.
That focus on the future was another big concern.Scott says there was a lot of discussion about vocational schools v. college- with teachers saying many kids already have an idea by middle school what their preferred path is.
Related is the involvement of parents in their child’s educational path and future.
“We’re concerned about accountability from the parents and increasing parent involvement,” says Pinedale Principal Alicia Hinson.
She says having an event like this at the school helps bring a renewed spirit to both the parents and the teachers, and she believes educators will already start to adapt changes the teachers themselves discussed.
Finally, education funding was on the table.Walden says consistency at the state level is always something that has teachers, especially ones newer to the profession, on edge.Scott maintains education has always and will continue to be a priority for his administration.
“We’re gunna make sure that we direct those dollars to where we will get the right result,” he says.
Scott says the underlying goal of this listening tour is to make sure that goal is met, and that the choices he, the legislators and other interested parties make for the future of education in Florida is the right choice for the students.