Education Equity in Florida Public Schools
For every child in Florida’s public schools to receive the opportunities and resources needed to reach his or her learning potential, policymakers must make education equity their central focus. Historic disparities in education and discipline are rooted in policy subservient to an electorate that has not been accountable for and is not representative of the children who most need our help. Black, Hispanic, indigenous people/Native Americans, English language learners, and differently-abled students have not had access to the same learning opportunities as their peers. As our state’s population continues to diversify, addressing inequity in education is fundamental for Florida’s economy to provide a competitive and productive 21st century society. Real education equity expands resources to our children with the most needs and prioritizes classroom learning. After two years of conversation with stakeholders and researchers, four key values, with specific policy recommendations, have emerged as the most promising equity solutions:
Strengthening Early Education for All
Every child will have access to quality pre-kindergarten education that supports learning opportunities necessary to set them on a trajectory of success. Once in grade school (Kindergarten to 2nd grade), children will receive the resources needed to achieve third-grade competency standards.
- Reform funding formulas for Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) programs to prioritize, incentivize and expand access in communities where the need for additional early childhood education resources is the greatest.
- Florida will develop research-based, interim performance benchmarks for kindergarten to 2nd grade.
Cultivating Healthy Learning Environments
Every child will be treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or ability. Discipline will be redefined to maximize learning opportunities, prioritizing classroom instructional time for every child.
- All schools will regularly report all discipline and school-based police intervention and arrest data required under state and federal law in a manner that is usable to and accessible by the public.
- Create statewide behavioral standards in which School Resource Officers (SROs) and law enforcement are responsible only for emergency situations involving serious and immediate threats to school safety and educators are responsible for administering school discipline.
- Create a funding stream to allow a greater number of school counselors, psychologists, and social workers to address behavioral concerns in children.
- All members of a public school educational community, including school staff, school resource officers, and others, whether employed by the district or otherwise participating in district activities, will receive ongoing training on implicit bias; diversity; cultural competency; working with youth (including de-escalation techniques, conflict resolution, child and adolescent development, and age-appropriate responses); trauma-informed practices; awareness of different disabilities; and behavioral-social-emotional functioning of students; as well as lists of resources and referrals for dissemination.
Strong Teachers in High-Need Classrooms
Every child will have competent and caring teachers who help them achieve their learning potential. Teachers will have the training, experience, and cultural and language competencies necessary to be effective educators with all students.
- Florida will establish a teacher tracking system that requires administrators and principals to report on patterns in assignment to strong teachers*, potential causes of these patterns, and their impact on children.
- Administrators and principals will develop a recruitment program that draws teachers who reflect the diversity of Florida.
- Teacher pay will meet or exceed the national average, ensuring children receive a high-quality education.
*Strong teaching as defined by classroom experience, adequate training and support, and a diversity of background and experience that reflects the community around them.
Children-First Education Funding
Every child will receive the funding and resources necessary to reach their learning potential. All learning institutions receiving public dollars will adhere to one statewide accountability standard to ensure every child succeeds in school and life.
- Immediately increase the per-student funding to at least the national average.
- Comply with the original purpose of the Florida Lottery as a supplemental funding stream for college and career readiness
Updated 11 October 2018.