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Spending education funds effectively


The Aug. 11 story Low-income schools struggle under state’s grading system included a claim that does not square with Florida’s K-12 record. It said that some attribute Florida’s extraordinary academic gains to increases in K-12 spending rather than to reform and the hard work of educators and students.

A recent study by scholars at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Munich, however, found that Florida had both the smallest increase in per-pupil funding since the early 1990s and the second-largest academic gains on the highly respected NAEP exam.

The key to the effectiveness of the limited per-pupil spending increase involved tying spending to results. The traditional way of increasing funding involves sending more money to the districts and hoping for the best results. Florida lawmakers, instead, offered educators bonuses for improved academic results and successful completion of college preparatory exams. Since these efforts were put in place, the number of African-American and Hispanic students passing Advanced Placement exams has more than quadrupled.

How you spend funds is every bit as important as what you spend.

T. Willard Fair, president & CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami, Inc. Miami

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