What Rick Scott and Barack Obama have to say about education

No one would identify Florida Gov. Rick Scott as a philosophical soul mate to Barack Obama, but Scott’s remarks on education during last evening’s State of the State address bore many similarities to the State of the Union and another recent speech Obama gave in Miami during a visit with Jeb Bush. His 450-word passage on “an education system full of new energy” seemed almost Obama-like. He spoke to the importance of revamping the way we evaluate teachers and increasing the number of charter schools — both of which are touchstones of Obama’s education agenda.

Notably, Scott stayed away from his more controversial ideas for school vouchers, and he was silent on the subject of virtual education, which he called “a critical component of the future education” during his campaign. There’s nothing to indicate that Scott will soften his ambitions to expand school choices, including private options, but it’s interesting to compare his remarks on education with those of the president.

From Scott, on school performance:

… we can all agree that measuring results is a key aspect of education. We must test our students, and we must evaluate our educators. Those measurements need to be fair and thoughtful, and they need to have rewards and consequences. We must also analyze how much education money is spent in the classroom versus the amount spent on administration and capital outlays.

From Obama’s State of the Union:

When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don’t meet this test. That’s why instead of just pouring money into a system that’s not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all 50 states, we said, “If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money.” Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than 1 percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. And these standards were developed, by the way, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country.

From Scott on charter schools:

I am calling for an increase in the number of charter schools — which are public schools that are allowed to work independently of their school board and can innovate in ways that encourage all schools to improve. With us here today is the principal of a very successful charter school — Sonia Mitchell of Florida International Academy. This charter school moved from an “F” school to an “A” school. Ms. Mitchell attributes their success to the passion of great educators and weekly measurements of student outcomes.

From Obama’s speech last week in Miami:

… the good news is we know what works. We can see it in schools and communities across the country every day … We can see it in Mastery Charter School in Philadelphia, where four times as many students are proficient in math, and violence is down 80 percent compared to just a few years ago.

Avatar photo

BY Adam Emerson

Editor of redefinED, policy and communications guru for Florida education nonprofit