Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
When you think of the state’s workforce, toddlers don’t usually come to mind. But that’s exactly how Miami Rep. Vance Aloupis thinks about Florida’s future.
“Investing in children today is going to bear fruit 15, 18, 20 years from now,” Aloupis said.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit in Orlando capped the summit by discussing the impact early childhood education has on the state’s workforce.
“This isn’t about the workforce of today. It’s about the workforce of tomorrow,” Aloupis said.
Speaking during a segment called “Where Do We Go From Here? Policy That Aids Education,” Aloupis, chair of the House Early Learning and Elementary Education Subcommittee, said a bill he worked on this Session (HB 419) will be “transformational” for Florida’s families because it brings long-sought changes to early childhood education.
The bill, which DeSantis has already signed, sets new standards for voluntary pre-kindergarten students.
“We’ve always assessed VPK based on kindergarten readiness, which is a hugely deceptive data point and in no way takes into consideration what’s happening in the classroom,” Aloupis said.
The bill would establish a timeline for phasing in a new VPK accountability system based on performance metrics that include student outcomes, learning gains and observations of child-teacher interactions.
“This is what we’ve been fighting for for 10 years, but now it’s time to really get started,” Aloupis said.
Aloupis said the path forward will involve supporting the early childhood workforce through professional development and better pay.
“We pay them like they’re babysitters but they’re so, so much more,” Aloupis said.
The picture, painted by Aloupis, would seem to show that if the state connects the dots early on, they’ll be rewarded with a capable workforce later.
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