This week, Gov. Rick Scott named the superintendents of seven Florida school districts of varying sizes — Orange, Volusia, Bay, Broward, Charlotte, Highlands and St. Johns — to a committee he has charged with the task of relieving the state's public school teachers of a growing burden of red tape. By now, many people have acknowledged that the drive to improve the quality of Florida public education has created rules and paperwork requirements that are hampering teachers' classroom activities.
The need to address the red tape issue was the main take-away from the "listening tour" of Florida public schools the governor undertook last week. The tour included closed-door meetings with parents and educators. In addition, Scott met with leaders of the Florida Education Association teacher's union. Given the mutual animosity, the occasion was definitely Daniel in the lion's den or the wolf among the sheep, depending on one's political leanings.
Scott took office two years ago pledging to shake up the public education status quo. The state's money woes prompted him and the Legislature to cut public education funding by $1.8 billion in his first year on the job. The governor has sought to have teachers and other state public employees contribute toward the pensions, although a court ruling has that on hold.
So even if the superintendents can come up with ways to cut red tape that will help teachers, don't expect the governor's FEA dining partners to do any less to thwart his 2014 re-election plans.