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Education & Workforce

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

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 education quality.

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 falling behind.

AIF SUPPORTS:

  • 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 learning opportunities.
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.

AIF SUPPORTS:

  • 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 schools.
  • changing formulas to require that funding follows the individual student.
Competition that Drives Improved  Performance

Injecting free-market competition will improve performance, unleash new opportunities and drive innovation within the school system.

AIF SUPPORTS:

  • equitable funding for public charter schools.
  • performance funding that aligns resources with student accomplishment, not simply time spent in the classroom.
  • 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.

AIF SUPPORTS:

  • 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).
Funding

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.

AIF SUPPORTS:

  • 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.
Online Education

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.

AIF SUPPORTS:

  • 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 institutions.
  • 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 universities.
Accountability

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 institutions.
  • consider student population and demographics when identifying the appropriate measurement of student outcomes and performance..