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Florida Council of 100 releases blueprint for improving schools

Recommendations include raising teacher pay and expanding PreK.

Florida school grades are rising, and the high school graduation rate is at an all-time high.

But while the Florida Council of 100 says state schools are in good hands with Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, there’s always room for improvement.

The group of business, civic and academic leaders released The Horizons 2040 Project: Grades PreK-12 Thursday outlining how the Sunshine State can keep up the trend over the next 20 years.

“We realized the need for a long-term approach that builds on the state’s five-year strategic plan,’’ said Rhea Law, of counsel for Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney and former Chair of the Florida Council of 100. “If we follow this blueprint, Florida will lead the nation in creating successful students equipped for life.’’

John Kirtley, Chairman of the Council’s K-12 Education Committee, added, “As business leaders, we know that education is the building block of prosperity. We want to ensure every student in Florida gets the education that prepares them for success for years to come.’’

The report highlights five avenues for improvement.

Topping the list is improving teacher support. The most meaningful way to do that? Giving them a pay raise. Also, Florida schools should devise ways to create an environment where teachers feel they have a voice and are part of a team.

Next up: empowering students. That includes prioritizing life skills education and adding career and technical training options.

“Core academic areas like reading, math and science are absolutely vital,” said David Dyer, who chairs the Council committee that led the charge for much of the report. “But schools also must provide students with important life skills so they can become successful, productive citizens.”

The Council report also recommends the state remain committed to high-quality standards — and that applies to both students and teachers.

Early education is also key. Many children aren’t properly prepared to learn by the time they enter Kindergarten, and numerous scientific studies show the bulk of brain development happens by age 5. Boosting the state’s voluntary PreK program to all-day or adding a summer term would help many youngsters start their school career on the right foot.

Finally, the Council recommends implementing “mastery-based education,” which ensures students are proficient in material before they can move on to the next class in the chain.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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