Florida’s economic competitiveness is based largely on creating and continuing to promote the most skilled workforce in the nation. AIF has been at the forefront
of education reform efforts for many years because a world-class workforce is a major component of job creation.
Creating more jobs in the state has been, and will continue to be, a major focus for AIF and the business community. Improving our workforce through education reforms will
be a key ingredient to job creation and also ensures businesses will continue to establish in Florida.
Early learning is facilitated by a vibrant industry filled
with dedicated individuals who recognize its significance
in the continuum of education. There is a direct correlation
between the quality of early learning programs, third
grade reading proficiency, and higher graduation rates; all
of which lead to a well-educated workforce. If Florida can
enroll more children into quality educational programs at
a younger age, our state will see a measurable benefit. AIF
SUPPORTS a uniform system of regulation for health and
safety standards for all early learning providers accepting
taxpayer dollars. A uniform system of regulation should
also apply to the allocation of additional resources necessary
to support providers that are committed to improving
Access to Technology and Innovative Learning
To fulfill the promises of virtual and online learning, AIF
SUPPORTS removing all barriers for accessing all forms of
innovative, technology-driven education. Online learning
is growing at over 30% per year and is projected to account
for 50% of all high school classes by 2020. Our schools must
innovate or they will suffocate. Staying the same means
- eliminating artificial enrollment caps that prevent
access to high-quality virtual and online education
opportunities for all students.
- allowing open enrollment policies for students to have
access to the best and most appropriate individual
learning environments, regardless of where they live.
- removing barriers that inhibit high-performing online
schools—both public and private—from expanding.
- offering flexibility in funding for instructional
materials and tighter alignment with virtual and
blended learning models.
- providing infrastructure, bandwidth and mobile
devices through a Digital Learning Initiative to equip
all Florida students with access to quality, digital
Choices that Work for Individual Students
Students learn differently and instruction must be customized
to meet their individual needs. Florida’s families
know what works best for their children.
- funding for capital outlay for public charter schools.
- removing artificial enrollment caps that prevent public
charter schools from meeting the demand of students
on waiting lists.
- restricting authority of school districts from imposing
- additional regulatory burdens on public charter
- changing formulas to require that funding follows the
Competition that Drives Improved Performance
Injecting free-market competition will improve performance,
unleash new opportunities and drive innovation
within the school system.
- equitable funding for public charter schools.
- performance funding that aligns resources with
student accomplishment, not simply time spent in the
- successful implementation of Common Core Standards
with professional development support for public
school teachers and administrators.
Talent Pipeline and Economic Development
Creating the talent pipeline should be a major focus of
the Florida Legislature this session. Promoting the talent
pipeline will help ensure the competitiveness of Florida.
- creating a comprehensive higher education plan for
the state of Florida.
- providing institutions with proper incentives that more
closely aligns degree programs and baccalaureate
production to the needs of Florida’s businesses,
entrepreneurs and innovators by closing the talent gap.
- allowing private institutions to compete for state funding
for dual enrollment, as current law only allows
state universities and colleges to be eligible for state
reimbursement per Full Time Enrollment (FTE).
AIF SUPPORTS the smart investment of state resources
into the production of baccalaureate degrees to help thousands
of Florida residents’ access quality higher education.
The Legislature should focus state resources toward the
development of a skilled workforce for Florida businesses,
employers and entrepreneurs. Florida’s nonprofit institutions
within the Independen Colleges and Universities
of Florida (ICUF) produce 22%-25% of all baccalaureate
degrees annually in Florida.
AIF SUPPORTS encouraging more state investment into this system by increasing per student funding for the
Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG) to $3,200, as it demonstrates
one of the strongest returns on investment for the
state’s higher education system.
Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medical (STEMM)
Emerging industries are important to Florida’s economy.
To continue the building, development and relocation of
businesses employing such high-technology workers,
we must produce the workforce that fills the needs at
every level, from undergraduate to graduate degrees.
- defining STEMM degrees to include medical
professionals seeking high-technology degrees such
as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, biotechnologists
and others. This should result in high-wage
salaries for thousands of new entrants into the
workforce in these areas.
- encouraging the production of workforce in STEMM
program degree graduates.
- identifying matching grant programs to encourage and
incentivize our private institutions of higher education
to increase the degree production in STEMM careers -
another smart investment by the state.
Florida has many unique options in constructing a
quality and viable distance education plan for the future;
public and private universities should partner to maximize
resources, and increase access to higher education and
the production of degrees in targeted industries.
- opening up distance education choices and ensure
cost-effective programs succeed, not by reinventing
the wheel, but by recognizing online systems already
in place by SACS-accredited, independent
- establishing a cooperative venture to oversee and
promote distance education which offers every
interested and committed Florida SACS-accredited
higher education institution the option to join in a
strategy to reach more Florida students with better
learning options and opportunities delivered online.
- creating a focus group for the cooperative venture on
associate and bachelor degree production, and be
comprised of two representatives, each from the Board
of Governors, the Florida College System, the
Governor’s office, and from independent colleges and
AIF SUPPORTS accountability in higher education and
promoting student outcomes. The Legislature should:
- create a taskforce to identify outcomes, which measure
the quality of degree offerings of higher education
- consider student population and demographics when
identifying the appropriate measurement of student
outcomes and performance..