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Education Reform in Florida

Diversity and Equity in Public Policy

Kathryn M. Borman, Sherman Dorn

Publication Year: 2007

In Education Reform in Florida, sociologists and historians evaluate Governor Jeb Bush’s nation-leading school reform policies since 1999. They examine the startlingly broad range of education policy changes enacted in Florida during Bush’s first term, including moves toward privatization with a voucher system, more government control of public education institutions with centralized accountability mechanisms, and a “superboard” for all public education. The contributors arrive at a mixed conclusion regarding Bush’s first-term education policies: while he deserves credit for holding students to higher standards, his policies have, unfortunately, pushed for equality in a very narrow way. The contributors remain skeptical about seeing significant and sweeping improvement in how well Florida schools work for all students.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page / Copyright Page

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pp. v

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pp. vii

The editors and authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Spencer Foundation in carrying out the research presented in this volume under the auspices of the Consortium for Educational Research in Florida housed at the University...

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1. Introduction: Issues in Florida Education Reform

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pp. 1-18

Since 1999, Florida education policy has been dominated by sweeping political initiatives during the administration of Governor Jeb Bush, now finishing his second term. In this book, we and our colleagues discuss both the current and historical context for education policy and education reform in the state of Florida. The first term of Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s administration, 1999–2003, was...

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2. The Legacy of Desegregation in Florida

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pp. 19-51

In two ways Governor Jeb Bush’s education policies in Florida in his first term assumed that the primary historical legacy of racism has been low expectations for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. First, his accountability policies for elementary and secondary schools have relied on a single mechanism—high-stakes...

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3. Education Finance Reform in Florida

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pp. 53-82

Upon his reelection, the man who has successfully campaigned twice for Florida’s governorship on a platform of tax cuts and competition for public dollars faced a constitutional requirement to significantly reduce school class sizes. When voters reelected Jeb Bush in 2002 for a second term in Tallahassee, they also approved a constitutional requirement mandating class size reduction. This mandate...

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4. Accountability as a Means of Improvement: A Continuity of Themes

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pp. 83-116

The importance of education as a campaign issue in contests for the governorship loomed large during the twentieth century throughout the United States, but was especially powerful in the South. Florida was no exception. Once elected, governors used the power of their office to influence educational policy. Some aspired to be “educational governors” by appointing blue-ribbon committees...

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5. Diversity, Desegregation, and Accountability in Florida Districts

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pp. 117-152

The state of Florida is experiencing concurrent trends in educational policy, the granting of unitary status to school districts that have been under court order to desegregate and the use of high-stakes testing as a means to hold schools accountable for student achievement. Not unlike school districts across the rest of the country, districts in Florida have gone to court to establish that they have...

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6. Equity, Disorder, and Discipline in Florida Schools

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pp. 153-183

In May of 2000, a seventh grade student named Nathaniel Brazill was suspended for throwing water balloons on the last day of the school year. He returned later that day to Lake Worth Middle School with his grandfather’s semiautomatic pistol and confronted a thirty-five-year old language arts teacher, Barry Grunow, in the school’s hallway. Brazill pulled the gun, cocked it, and...

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7. Competing Agendas for University Governance: Placing the Conflict between Jeb Bush and Bob Graham in Context

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pp. 185-209

Governor Jeb Bush sought to transform every level of education in Florida during his first term in office. While his A Plan intensified the use of testing and performance-based budgeting in elementary and secondary education, his One Florida Initiative eliminated the consideration of race and gender in university admissions, and his reorganization of higher education governance established...

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8. One Florida, the Politics of Educational Opportunity, and the Blinkered Language of Preference

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pp. 211-239

Florida became the focus of a right-wing campaign to end affirmative action in the spring of 1999. In March, Ward Connerly announced, “Florida is going to be a target for our national movement. I have concluded there is a problem in Florida.”1 Connerly, the wealthy African American businessman and foe of affirmative action and desegregation, had previously led campaigns that...

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9. Florida’s A Plan: Education Reform Policies and Student Outcomes

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pp. 241-279

The last four chapters together describe the limits of Governor Bush’s policies—most notably, the focus on accountability without a parallel emphasis on resource allocation to promote equity. In this chapter we consider what many readers may think are among the most important outcomes of Governor Jeb Bush’s education reform policies: the academic achievement of students attending the state’s...

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About the Contributors

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pp. 281-283

Kathryn M. Borman is professor of anthropology and affiliated with the Alliance for Applied Research in Education and Anthropology at the University of South Florida. Dr. Borman was the director of the Consortium for Educational Research in Florida, the starting point of this book, and has extensive experience in educational reform and policy as well as evaluation studies. Currently she...


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pp. 285-294

E-ISBN-13: 9780791480656
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791469835
Print-ISBN-10: 0791469832

Page Count: 302
Illustrations: 24 tables, 3 figures
Publication Year: 2007