PASCO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – President Barack Obama today signed a sweeping education reform bill into law that shifts control over education policy from the federal government to states and local school districts, pressures educators to help low-performing schools, and ensures that states set high standards for success in college and beyond. The President called the bipartisan legislation a “Christmas miracle.”
“I would have to say that I think it is a good thing. I believe in local control,” said Ray Gadd Deputy Superintendent of Pasco County Schools. ”No longer can the state point to the federal government and say you’re the problem now the burden of education is solely in their hands.”
What the state does plan to do under the new law remains a mystery. The Florida Department of Education released a statement Thursday after the President signed the bill into law that sounded like the education measure was still in limbo. “Once a final version is passed, we will take the time to thoroughly review it and determine what changes, if any, will be necessary,” the Florida DOE statement said.
Gadd hoped the state DOE would have been more responsive to the biggest change in education policy since the Bush Administration. “That statement concerns me because I would think they had been paying attention to what was going on the federal level related to this actin and would have bene thinking about being proactive,“ Gadd said.
Teacher unions are ecstatic over the shift in power away from Washington and the ‘one size fits all’ policies and standardized testing that have chaffed teachers across the nation. Local educations we contacted in Pasco Hillsborough and Pinellas counties still aren’t sure what to make of the new law because it will be up to the state to determine what changes—if any—take place in the classroom.
Gadd insists the burden is now on state lawmakers to adequately fund schools and improve teacher pay so that he and other local school districts administrators can have a better pipeline of qualified teachers, prop up underperforming schools and have funds to build new ones.
He believes the new law does open the door for parents to have more of a direct local impact on the education of their children, but they have to seize that opportunity. “I think it’s time for parents and advocacy groups in this community to hold their Legislators accountable,” Gadd said.