Maybe it’s all the sugar sand and palm trees, but I often feel disconnected from the gloomy national commentary on efforts to improve public education. Mike Petrilli’s recent lament, well-articulated as it was, is the latest example. Mike bemoaned a “lost decade” of achievement, “glum” policymakers and philanthropists, and “much friction, fractiousness, and furor” in the wake of failed reform.
Mike! You need a mojito! Education reform may be in a funk across America, but not in Florida. Not for education reformers who believe that expanding educational options, and giving both parents and teachers more power and freedom, is the linchpin to lasting progress.
In Florida, the past few years have been especially sunny. School choice continues to evolve into the new normal. A growing army of choice parents and teachers is increasingly visible and vocal. Policymakers continue to mash the pedal. At the same time, the evidence about academic outcomes keeps getting better.
The Florida experience suggests that putting more emphasis on accountability through choice, rather than through regulations only, will get us down the reform road further and faster. We certainly have enormous challenges in the Sunshine State, but the biggest one may be managing the pace...