South Florida is wrapping up the year on more solid footing than when 2013 began. Back in January, the Editorial Board entered the new year concerned, as always, about the quality of education, healthcare and the environment. This year brought a sea change in these areas — in fact, that’s almost a literal description of what prognosticators see for South Florida in the coming decades.
Once again, governmental entities at the federal and state levels down to county, and even municipal, daises have had an impact on South Floridians’ lives — for good and for ill.
Christmas came early for South Florida schools with the news last week that there was not an F school among them and just a sprinkling of C and D schools. The majority of schools earned an A or B. Good news that is even better because students, faculty and administrators excelled despite what seemed to be ever-changing standards set by state education leaders and the Legislature. And now, Common Core is coming on full bore.
In January, the Editorial Board lamented that Gov. Rick Scott, throughout his term, “has had a mixed record on education.” Unfortunately, he’s done little to disabuse South Floridians of that view.
He flirted with issuing an executive order to undo the Common Core State Standards, saying the curriculum was expensive and a sign of federal-government intrusion. He was pandering to his tea-party compatriots, of course, but not to anyone who cares deeply about the quality of education in the state — and that of the students graduating from its schools. If Common Core is expensive, just think of the how much an academically unprepared workforce will cost the state.
Teachers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties did see a pay raise. Gov. Scott played a role there, in proposing across-the-board raises of $2,500. He backed off when the Legislature choked, so teachers will see something less than $2,500 — and which stands to be nibbled away by higher healthcare costs. Speaking of which . . .
South Floridians were not spared in the national fiasco that was the rollout of the Affordable Care Act website. And Mr. Scott and lawmakers didn’t help by muzzling the federally-paid counselors hired to help walk people through what turned out to be a tortured process.
The state lawmakers also refused to implement a program that would have allowed about 1 million indigent Floridians to access Medicaid.
In Miami-Dade County, residents who went to the polls were more compassionate and forward-looking.
They approved an $830 million bond issue so that the Jackson Health System can make desperately needed upgrades to its well-regarded public hospital, continue to deliver high-quality care and attract paying patients.
Miami-Dade commissioners must now do the responsible thing and appoint, as they promised, an independent panel that will oversee how the funds are spent.
South Florida is losing ground — to the sea. A summertime report in Rolling Stone magazine made it impossible to ignore the effect of climate change on South Florida. While grander steps are being taken on the federal level to step up energy alternatives to coal-generated electricity, South Florida leaders, too, can take smart steps to ameliorate the effect of what’s coming. Otherwise, Atlantis, anyone?