Rep. Manny Diaz Discusses Choice, Accountability & Charter Schools
The success of Florida’s education gains cannot be denied. Our state ranks second in the world and first in the nation in fourth grade reading scores, achievement gaps are closing and graduation rates at an all-time high. But according to the Florida Chamber Foundation, our state will need to fill 2 million more jobs by 2030.
The solution? Fewer but better tests, creating quality schools, expanding opportunities and measuring outcomes. Being a globally competitive economy begins with a commitment to rigorous standards and accountability initiatives. Representative Manny Diaz, Chair of the House Education Subcommittee on Choice and Innovation, discusses the importance for school choice, opportunities, accountability standards and charter schools to Florida’s growing economy.
“There can be no retreat from accountability,” said Representative Manny Diaz, Chair of the House Education Subcommittee on Choice and Innovation. “Having said that, there are instances where there may have been too many tests. We want to continue to measure, we don’t want to back away from accountability, but we want to make sure that when we do measure, its important and it give us a clear picture of where our students are. We need to be responsible for our education system- we are- and we want to have tests that are quality tests and really tell parents and teachers where those students are and what we need to do next to improve their lives.”
A quality educational system is Florida’s new economic development tool, which is why the Florida Chamber supports school choice options like personal leaning account, tax credit scholarships and charter schools. And with new House proposals regarding charter schools, specifically a new Charter School Innovation Institute at Florida State University, Florida is on the right track to continued success.
“We’ve vetted many national models,” explained Rep. Manny Diaz. “We feel that if Florida is going to continue to be a leader- we have to step up. Now it’s our turn to come back and have a real research center to tell us what are the quality practices, what does a quality charter school look like, and providing that option for parents. It’s only one tool in the toolbox, but we need to make sure it’s a quality tool.”
And while the Florida Chamber believes educational reforms are moving Florida in the right direction, we will continue to advocate against special interest groups that put the agendas of adults before the needs of Florida’s students.
“We should never box somebody’s opportunity in with an arbitrary boundary like a zip code, or what street they live on,” said Rep. Manny Diaz. “All parents, no matter what their economic status, should have the opportunity of choice. Parents know best when it comes to the educational opportunities of their children. Our tax credit scholarships have been under fire because of a lawsuit. We are continuing to fight on, to make sure that we don’t allow the adults to infringe on the opportunity for 70,000 low income kids that are the most vulnerable in our state. In a state of 19 million people, you would think that adults wouldn’t be bullying 70,000 low income kids. But it’s happening and we are fighting on to make sure that they keep that opportunity.”
From Learners to Earners – Florida Chamber Education Update
The Florida Chamber believes that a quality education, from early learning to lifelong learning, is Florida’s new economic development strategy. Improving education for a better workforce is a top priority for the Florida Chamber.
This week, the Florida Legislature focused its attention on several Florida Chamber-backed education bills. Below is a compilation of Florida Chamber-backed education bills that saw legislative action this week.
Championing School Choice for Students
SB 692 – Sen. Jeff Brandes (R- St. Petersburg
HB 7037 – Choice & Innovation Subcommittee and Rep. Bob Cortes (R- Maitland)
Helps charter schools provide quality education options around the state.
SB 1448 – Sen. John Legg (R- Lutz)
SB 1552 – Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Fort Myers)
Gives parents the opportunity to choose the best learning environment for their students.
Preparing Florida’s Workforce for a Global Economy
SB 960 – Sen. Tom Lee (R- Brandon)
Allows students to expand their volunteer opportunities.
HB 587 – Rep. Ross Spano (R- Riverview)
Will provide teachers greater professional development opportunities.
Supporting Global Standards for
College and Career Readiness
HB 7069 – Education Committee and Rep. Marlene O’Toole (R- The Villages)
Will help streamline testing process for Florida’s students.
There are many ways to get involved in the Florida Chamber’s long term fight to move Florida’s education system in the right direction.
- Join us as we co-host the Children’s Week Business Leaders Luncheon in Tallahassee on April 13, where conversations will focus on early learning.
- Attend the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Education and Philanthropy Summit on June 9 in Tampa. Held in conjunction with the Florida Department of Education, discussion will range from early learning to workforce development.