Continue To Be Bold

Guest Correspondence

SRQ Daily Columnist Christine Robinson the executive director of The Argus Foundation.

“How strong is your school system?” 

This is one of the top questions a CEO or relocation firm asks when they are looking to start or move their company here. We have a lot to be proud of in terms of education in Sarasota County. We consistently have good rankings when compared with other districts. We should not stop there. We should also consider state, national and international numbers to really understand where K-12 education is headed.

While the Sarasota County School District consistently ranks high among all districts in the state, Florida has a ways to go in a nation that is not even ranked well internationally.

During a recent “Meet the Minds” luncheon, hosted by The Argus Foundation, the focus was education reform in Florida. Leaders from the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) and the Foundation for Florida’s Future shared some surprising insights on where the U.S. lands among its international counterparts.

The speakers suggested we are a nation in crisis, with the U.S. ranked 27th in the world in math, 17th in reading and 20th in science. 

Furthermore, they remarked that in 2013, across the nation 66 percent of eighth graders were not performing at their grade level in math and were performing below grade level in fourth grade reading.

These low numbers also lead to decreasing statistics for college and career readiness nationally. In 2014, 60 percent of high school graduates who took the ACT weren’t ready for first-year college schoolwork. Another 30 percent of high school graduates couldn’t pass the U.S. military entrance exam. 

On a statewide level, education reform is gaining widespread attention and there is a lot of work to be done. This year, Education Week ranked Florida 28th in its "Quality Counts" report – a significant drop from past years when Florida ranked as high as 5th.

Locally, we must strive for standards higher than Florida’s. We must also keep our eye on the national and international numbers to really understand how our district is doing. 

We have some exciting programs driven by passionate local leaders and our foundations in which we are seeing real change and data-driven results. A perfect example is the Eagle Academy at Alta Vista Elementary School.

The summer academy established four years ago was funded initially from one private donor. With unbelievable success and additional private funding from foundations and others, the summer academy is now helping more than 350 students in a Title 1 school, where 96 percent of the students are from low-income families, to achieve great things to significantly close the achievement gap.

The three-tiered program includes proficiency training for students, mandatory parenting and vocational training for caregivers and a food pantry with social activity nights for the entire family.

Great results demand stronger solutions. Programs like Eagle Academy are stretching the boundaries of conventional reform while looking at new solutions and thinking outside the box. Let’s continue to be bold and innovative—and look to national and international numbers for our standard.

SRQ Daily Columnist Christine Robinson the executive director of The Argus Foundation.

« View The Saturday Aug 15, 2015 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

What Will Single Member Districts Really Mean?

Among the litany of issues Sarasota County voters consider this year will be whether to switch to single-member districts when electing county commissioners. It’s fairly easy to see why this inspires sharp partisan divide. Democrats lament no one from the blue team has won a seat on the com

Jacob Ogles | Oct 13, 2018

District 72 Remains Region's Hottest House Race

An unexpected contest and surprising upset this year turned state House District 72 into the center of the political world in February. This November, voters weigh in again, and while the race this time will be one of many in the region, it remains one of the marquis battles in the region.

Jacob Ogles | Sep 22, 2018

Letting Go at Ringling

We have had the great pleasure at Ringling College of Art and Design this past week of welcoming the largest incoming freshman class in the history of our institution. That’s right, over 500 new young people, representing 42 different states and 30 diverse countries, arrived in Sara

Dr. Larry Thompson | Aug 25, 2018

Good and Graham Swinging for Glass Ceiling

As the woman who could become Florida’s first female governor stumped in Sarasota this week, she turned to the region’s biggest Democratic star for a boost. State Rep. Margaret, D-Sarasota, took the stage at the Francis Thursday to throw her personal support behind gubernatorial candi

Jacob Ogles | Jul 28, 2018