Senator Stargel’s Middle School Study proposal is a laser beam of truth for Florida’s K-12 system

Update – Monday afternoon:  SB 360 passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously with the support of both the Foundation for Florida’s Future and the Florida Education Association.  That doesn’t happen often.  So we are on our way.   

You can’t solve a problem unless you first acknowledge that it exists.

On Monday afternoon, during one of the first committee meetings of the regular 2017 session of the Florida Legislature, the Senate Education Committee will consider a proposal for a study of student achievement in Florida’s middle schools.  In the Lake Wobegon atmosphere that the state’s policy-makers have engineered around Florida’s K-12 system, the middle school study proposal (SB 360) shines like a laser beam through the artificial fog.  And the proposal’s author, Polk County Republican Senator (and Deputy Majority Leader) Kelli Stargel, assumes the role of legislative truth-teller.

The companion proposal in the House, HB 293, was filed by another Polk County legislator, Representative Colleen Burton.

If you want to know more about why the Legislature should approve the Stargel/Burton proposal, you have two choices.  First, you can read the analysis of the bill written by the fine folks on the Senate Education Committee staff.  Or instead, you can look at the plots of results from the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress below, which clearly show that Florida’s middle school students are struggling.

The challenge on Monday for the members of the Senate Education Committee will be to admit that not everything is OK with Florida’s K-12 schools.  This will put them somewhat at odds with the executive branch, which is making a considerable investment in proving that everything in the state’s public school system is great.

So while the proposal for a study is quite modest, it will still be significant if the bill is eventually signed by Governor Scott.  Maybe it will provide the first step toward genuine improvement in the achievement of the state’s students.

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