Florida Trend's Floridian of the year is the Florida teacher
In the last 12 months ...
- Florida students ranked first in the nation in participation in high school Advanced Placement exams (55.9% of graduates took one) and third in performance (31.7% scored a 3 or higher out of 5).
- Florida again ranked fourth nationally in Education Week’s Quality Counts for student achievement.
- Florida’s high school graduation rate hit a 15-year high at 86.1%. African-American, Hispanic and low-income students all posted gains over five years.
- Under the state’s accountability system, now in its 21st year, 63% of Florida schools earned an A or B. The number of F schools is down 93% since 2015.
- Five more of the state’s 67 school districts — Orange is the latest major district — became A districts, bringing the state total to 24. The state reports 54 of 67 have at least a B and none is D or F.
As the past year shows, Florida schools have improved. Credit goes everywhere. Jeb Bush, in his time as governor, instituted the accountability system that forced districts and schools to improve service to students, a system improved by subsequent governors and legislatures. Forward thinkers and adroit executives such as former Superintendent Don Gaetz in Okaloosa County and Miami-Dade’s current superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, showed how top district leaders can effect change.
This year, FLORIDA TREND recognizes the foot soldiers — Florida’s 177,000 teachers — as the collective Floridian of the Year.
Fedrick Ingram, president of the teacher-union affiliate Florida Education Association, is delighted to see teachers get their due, but he is unhappy with the state. Florida ranks 46th in teacher pay and, according to his association, has so much turnover that 28% of Florida teachers have two years or fewer of experience, the highest percentage in the nation. Nearly half of all new teachers are gone by the end of their fifth year, he says. The teachers association complains about the state’s accountability system, compensation tied to student performance and unfunded directives. “They have taken the respect level out of teaching,” Ingram says.
Teachers who talked with FLORIDA TREND feel that some parents and society in general don’t hold the teaching career in the esteem it deserves. But they also know the work they’re doing matters. “There are so many amazing teachers who are trying to work toward this common goal of creating amazing citizens for our state,” says Nikki Mosblech, an environmental science teacher at Vero Beach High School. “I think giving them a little bit of respect is not always a bad thing, too.”
Read more in Florida Trend's December issue.
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