GOVERNOR BUSH AND MAYOR BLOOMBERG TOUT EDUCATION REFORMS AT THE ASSOCIATION FOR A BETTER NEW YORK
Governor Jeb Bush, joined by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, addressed more than 400 members and guests of the Association for a Better New York in New York about improving America's public schools and the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Both leaders lauded the accountability measures in the law, but advocated for improvements to ensure student achievement is more effectively and practically promoted across the nation. Governor Bush and Mayor Bloomberg were joined by Florida Department of Education Commissioner John Winn and New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein.
"No Child Left Behind is a good law, based on the bedrock principles of accountability, transparency and high expectations. But it can be made better," said Governor Bush. "I appreciate Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein's passion for reform in New York City and their advocacy for reform regarding the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act."
Florida and New York City are leaders in promoting accountability and high standards in education. As Congress begins to consider reauthorization of the act, Governor Bush and Mayor Bloomberg propose refining four key areas of the law to more effectively serve students and teachers:
Use the National Assessment of Educational Progress - also known as the nation's report card - as a benchmark for evaluating state standards. Since the NAEP test is administered in all 50 states, using the NAEP test would offer the best means to provide continuity nationwide.
Recognize the progress made by each individual student, encouraging schools to improve the performance of all students.
Adopt a tiered grading system which recognizes the degrees of progress within each school - rather than just labeling a school passing or failing. Differentiating between a school that prepares 90 percent of its students and one that only prepares 10 percent of them will strengthen accountability.
Ensure teachers are qualified, but also ensure they are performing well and being paid accordingly.
"Transparency, meaningful standards and rigorous accountability are the hallmarks of successful school reform," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Governor Bush and I have used these three critical keys to create measurable success in our public schools. Today, in New York City schools, failure is no longer a permissible option and the result is that our schools and our students are finally headed in the right direction. We've ended social promotion and the achievement gap is closing. No Child Left Behind is an important part of public school reform and strengthening local accountability measures will help educators, parents and elected officials evaluate schools more meaningfully with better results for our children. I thank Governor Bush for his leadership and vision on this issue and look forward to continuing to share ideas on how we can improve the lives of the next generations of children in our public schools."
During the event, Governor Bush highlighted Florida's successful education reforms:
Data-driven decision-making shapes strong education policies. By measuring student progress, parents, educators and policymakers can make informed decisions to best serve the needs of students.
Students rise to meet the challenge of higher expectations. Since setting clear expectations for students and encouraging them to rise to the challenge, Florida's students have made strides in achievement. Three out of four third grade students - including twice as many African-American and Hispanic students - read at or above grade level.
Third grade retention helps students succeed in the future. Students who struggle to read at grade level in the third grade are retained and given intense reading remediation so they have the basic skills necessary for success in all subjects. Data shows that, on average, retained students enter the fifth grade with higher levels of academic proficiency than students who were socially promoted.
All students are capable of success. All of Florida's students - minorities, Limited English Proficient students and students with disabilities - have shown improvements in learning on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
More education funding than ever before. Today, nearly one-third of Florida's annual budget is spent on education. Since 1999, funding has increased by $7.7 billion, more than $7,000 per student.
All subjects are important to a successful education system. Students must be armed with knowledge of the core subjects to succeed in any subject. Art, music and other subjects also prepare students for life. In 1999-2000, 45 percent of elementary students were enrolled in an art course and 48 percent were enrolled in a music course. In 2004-05, 61 percent of elementary students were enrolled in an art course and 66 percent were enrolled in a music course.
High school reform for 21st century students. Under Governor Bush's A++ Plan for Education, middle and high school students will have more control over their future. Students will choose a major area of interest and take elective courses that range from mathematics to dance so students can begin to pursue their aspirations in high school.
For more than 30 years, the Association for a Better New York has worked as a catalyst to bring business, political, labor and non-profit leaders together to address problems facing the economic and social well being of the city. Under the leadership of William C. Rudin, the organization continues to carry out its mission by providing forums and programs that work to build a better New York. For more information, please visit www.abny.org.
For more education on Florida's rising student achievement, please visit www.myflorida.com.