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Florida’s education reforms take wrong approach

The state of Florida recently announced a daring program that attempts to put 30,000 new teachers in high schools as soon as possible. But as long as Florida’s teachers are chronically underpaid, this is the wrong approach, and Florida’s schools will remain among the worst in the nation. In order for Florida’s education crisis to be solved, the state must realize it is not possible to do so on the cheap. It must also take note that quantity does not equal quality when education is concerned.

The program intends to ease certification processes candidates have to face in order to be allowed to teach. According to the St. Petersburg Times, it is hoped “to give college graduates teaching skills in a fraction of the time.” This begs the question of how teachers that have less training than previously required are supposed to improve our education system.

Getting as many warm bodies as possible in front of classes may help by keeping the increasingly large classes in check, but it does not necessarily mean the “fast track” teachers will be good at their job. It is also doubtful that the newly minted teachers will stay for very long. Long hours and lousy pay will likely not be a long-term career choice for all of them.

In order to change that, public school teachers need a raise, better equipment and better funding across the board.

Florida’s schools have an abysmal track record. The standardized tests that were introduced to help raise the bar on Florida’s education have not changed that, but rather made the problems even more painfully apparent.

Testing alone does not help. If students continue to be shortchanged the results will not improve, no matter the testing method.

It is almost a cliché to say education is an investment in our future, but it is true. As Florida is trying to re-invent itself as a location for high-tech industries, a well-balanced education is more important than ever. Such an industry will need a well-educated workforce. If Floridians lack the education, individuals from other states will take the jobs while locals are left out in the rain.

There is likely no magic bullet that will fix the education system overnight. It will take time, dedication and money. Sadly, as this and past programs have shown, the state legislature is largely unwilling to spend what it takes.