Florida failing to invest in educational improvements

January 28, 2014 

Ballard Elementary School fourth-graders Dakota Pate and Sebastian Parker-Allen make islands out of vegetables with exceptional student education paraprofessional Nancy Wiles. Friday was "play with your fruits and vegetables" day in Manatee County Schools. ERICA EARL/Bradenton Herald

A recent Herald headline declared that new Florida educational standards for public universities will penalize "low-performing colleges."

Ever since the election of Gov. Rick Scott, Florida universities have had their funding cut. And now they are going to get punished by having to meet new, higher standards!

It is hard to believe that such an unproductive move could be enacted on purpose. But either our state government really is that stupid, or they don't really want to improve Florida higher education. Neither conclusion is very flattering.

Anyone interested in improving education would never deprive universities of needed funding, and then raise performance standards to punish them for the inevitable problems.

If improvement is our real goal, we can spend our funds more effectively. Why not put the most money on what should be the primary job of a university -- teaching? University faculty need a much deserved raise, which they haven't had in years.

Some university faculty are paid below the national average, while administrators are paid more than average. Administrators who apparently believe in an adversarial, not a collegial, relationship with faculty treat faculty as labor rather than as professional colleagues.

Class size has been increased. Morale is low. Faculty are working harder, under increasing handicaps. We need to spend our money removing handicaps before we raise the standards.

The FCAT has been a miserable failure and waste of money for K-12 education. We don't need an FCAT clone for the university system.

Real leaders don't punish institutions for deficiencies not caused by them and beyond their control. Leaders fix things, they don't make things worse.

Myra Jones


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