Earlier this year, Education Week magazine ranked Florida’s education system sixth-best in the country, up from 31st in 2007.
“[The] report shows that the education reform policies of the past decade have created a system that will prepare our students for the global workforce of the future,” Board of Education member Kathleen Shanahan said when the report was released in January.
While Florida earned points for its system of standards, assessments and accountability, it fared near the bottom in terms of student achievement and school funding.
Education Commissioner Pam Stewart downplayed the funding issue last January: “What matters most is not how much we spend, but how we spend the dollars we allocate.”State education officials have also pointed to improvements in the graduation rate. In a separate 2013 report, Education Week said Florida ranked first in the nation in graduating Hispanic students. The report also said black students in Florida graduate at a far higher percentage than in the rest of the country.
Since the lawsuit was filed in 2009, the state has twice tried to have it dismissed. But Judges are allowing it to move forward in circuit court.
Chonin, who is representing the parents, said he is hopeful the courts require lawmakers to rethink the public school system and education funding.
He does not foresee a court order ending choice programs like charter schools, he said.
“It would be virtually impossible to abolish charter schools,” he said. “Our position is that there should be an even playing field.”
Kathleen McGrory can be reached at kmcgrory@MiamiHerald.com.