Rick Scott: ‘My accomplishments were only possible because of my education’

At an education summit in Fort Myers today, Florida Gov. Rick Scott officially unveiled his education agenda, which included some measures that could expand charter schools. “In business, choice and competition create excellence,” he said, according to his prepared remarks. “Increasing options in education will drive increased results for Florida students.”

Scott’s speech included details about his own upbringing, much of which he has shared before. The governor lived in public housing when he began school, and his family frequently moved because of their financial struggles. “But there were three constants in my life: my Mom, church and school,” he said. “My teachers let me know I could learn, and learning was my ticket to the experiences of the world.”

Scott’s plan drew a fair share of positive comments from business leaders, former Gov. Jeb Bush and others. Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, said in a written statement, “We are particularly impressed with Governor Scott’s recommendations aimed at providing greater flexibility and deregulation to local school districts so that we may customize learning opportunities to fit the needs of students, their families, their communities and local businesses.”

Andy Ford, president of the state teachers union, was more cautious, describing the plan as “kind of sketchy,” according to the News Service of Florida. Ford also said he wanted to see more accountability for charter schools, telling the News Service, “We have to make sure that we aren’t allowing charter schools to cherry-pick students.”

Click here to see Scott’s prepared remarks in full.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director of Research & Special Projects at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times).