September 10, 2012
Education and workforce development issues continue to be a top priority for the business community as Florida continues to work towards an economic recovery. Recently, Governor Scott announced that he is embarking on a 10-city educational listening tour in order to best understand the needs of our students, our schools, parents, and the workforce needs of our employers. Please take a moment to read this letter from Governor Scott explaining his decision to undertake this important mission.
Associated Industries of Florida commends Governor Scott for his commitment to our school children and to making our state’s
K-12 school system the very best it can be. We look forward to the results of this listening tour and to working alongside Governor Scott on continuing his educational reform efforts.
September 10, 2012
Mr. Thomas Feeney, III
Dear Mr. Feeney,
As a parent and a grandparent, I know that the most important thing we can do for our kids is to make sure they have the opportunity to get an education. This is how they will be able to live the American Dream. As I have traveled the state, every family I have talked with has told me about their desire to see their kids and grandkids find success. When I was younger, my education allowed me to get ahead and to find better jobs and opportunities. After attending community college, I decided to serve in the United States Navy because I wanted to serve my country. Later, I continued my education in law school. Every level of my education prepared me for better jobs and opportunities, and I used what I learned to build successful businesses.
Today, I will begin a 10-city listening tour to engage teachers, parents and students in a dialogue about the future of K-12 education in our great state. This week is about listening to those who are most integral to classroom performance and can achieve our goal: to make certain that every student who leaves our schools is prepared for college and a career. Teachers, parents and students are critical in making sure that we are able to grow jobs and opportunities in our state.
Florida’s education system is something to be proud of. Florida earned the highest overall grade in the nation for teacher quality from the National Council on Teacher Quality. Hispanic students in Florida led the nation in graduation rates in the 2012 Diplomas Count report. Ten of Newsweek’s top 100 public high schools are in Florida, with two placing in the top ten. Four of Florida’s high schools rank in the top 10 of US News & World Report’s top magnet schools. Our reading and accountability policies are models for other states. These accomplishments show reform efforts have worked, but our work to better prepare our students for college and careers is not complete.
Having spent my entire career as a businessman, education was critical for me to find opportunities for myself and to hire well-prepared employees. To say that education is the engine that will drive our ability to be the number one destination for business to open, expand and relocate is certainly an understatement. I hear this every day as I talk to leaders like you, and I know it was certainly true for me in my experiences in business.
In order for us to ensure that our education system is meeting those goals, we must listen to our teachers, parents and students to be sure that all of us have a clear understanding of what we need and how we can achieve our goals. Heading into this week, it is important that we approach these conversations with a set of clear principles to guide our decisions. Listed below are six common-sense, but meaningful, principles that can add clarity to our path to the future of education in Florida. Each of these stem from our primary goal of readiness for college and careers. I am hopeful that the meetings this week with teachers, parents and students will help us develop a clear action plan to ensure students have the opportunity to find jobs, have successful careers, build families in Florida and live the American Dream.
Strengthening education: preparing students for college and careers