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The EdFly Blog

Student success in Florida not celebrated by all

The EdFly Blog

Florida scored another impressive victory with the state finishing sixth in the Education Week “Quality Counts’’ rankings.

This follows news from last month that Florida fourth graders finished second in the world on international reading assessments. In October, Miami-Dade won the prestigious Broad Prize for urban school districts because of progress in closing the achievement gap. Florida kids ranked second in the nation in learning gains dating back to the 1990s. I could go on.

Alas, Florida’s good news is not celebrated by all, even by its own teachers’ union. The Florida Education Association has been silent on all of the above, even though its teachers are on the front lines of these successes. Repentant reformer Diane Ravitch actually compared student achievement in Florida and Massachusetts. Of course Massachusetts kids perform better. Look at the student demographic and income data, Diane. Are you serious?

The reason for this denial is that Florida did not achieve its success by acceptable means. By that, I mean if the state had achieved these results by tripling education spending and eliminating its accountability provisions and school choice options, the above victories would have been trumpeted from the rooftops by the FEA and Diane as well.

Florida is a threat because its success dating back to 1999 points education in an entirely different direction. And now even a Democratic president has joined the reformers.

Simply put, when you demand results and hold people accountable for delivering them, you get better results. This makes adults vested in the old system less secure and increasingly uncomfortable. They are pushing back hard, and as is obvious, it’s not for the benefit of students.

More on the Quality Counts report later.

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