Hispanic education organization hosts Fort Lauderdale panel with Michelle Rhee, Gerard Robinson
The Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (Hispanic CREO) held a forum Friday in Fort Lauderdale to discuss how school choice can help boost success for Hispanic students. Both Michelle Rhee — an informal education adviser to Gov. Rick Scott — and Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson were in attendance.
In Florida, K-12 educational choice options for parents of public school students authorized by Florida statutes include public school choice, private school choice, home education and private tutoring. The Foundation for Educational Choice calls school choice, “a common sense idea that gives every parent the power and freedom to choose their children’s education.”
That freedom also means giving public dollars go to privately run schools.
Hispanic CREO was “founded to address the crisis in Hispanic education by empowering Hispanic families with parental choice in education. By creating coalitions with parents, teachers, schools, faith-based organizations and corporate America, Hispanic CREO has been able to educate, inform and mobilize Hispanic parents.”
Hispanic CREO cites a National Assessment of Educational Progress report (.pdf) issued in June that states that closing the Hispanic-white achievement gap in U.S. public schools remains a challenge. While Hispanic students’ average scores have increased across the assessment years, white students scored higher on average.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, controversial school reformer Michelle Rhee said during the Fort Lauderdale panel that children in school today will be the first generation to be less educated than their parents, even though we spend more than double per child on U.S. public education than we did 20 years ago.
Michelle Rhee — former Washington, D.C., public school chancellor; supporter of the tough-on-teachers brand of school reform; founder and CEO of Students First; and informal adviser to Gov. Rick Scott — recently came out in support of the DREAM Act, an immigration reform proposal favored by Hispanics from different political ideologies.
Rhee wrote then that educational policies need to change in favor of prioritizing the needs of children, adding that the DREAM Act is an opportunity to do that. The measure would grant people who entered the U.S. illegally before the age of 16 conditional permanent resident status if they obtain at least an associate-level college degree or serve in the military for two years.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Florida’s new education commissioner Gerard Robinson said, ”I see a strong correlation between education and the economy” at the event, because well-educated people help create more jobs.
Robinson has a track record of championing school choice. He was previously the president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, a group that supports vouchers, charter schools and other alternatives for low-income minority students.
Rhee added that there is no one problem or answer in public education, but she did highlight two challenges: a lack of teacher accountability and decisions based on politics. She said that decisions must be based on what is best for children.
Rhee repeated her support for better teachers, better school principals, choice, competition, accountability, fiscal responsibility and the right government structure — policies promoted by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who as chairman of the board and president of Foundation for Excellence in Education is working at the national level to support the implementation of choice, competition, school vouchers and testing.
Julios Fuentes, president and CEO of Hispanic CREO, said in a written statement published last week by Students First that in order “to bring national attention to this education crisis, the Hispanic Counsel for Reform and Educational Options is working with StudentsFirst and others to launch the Coalition to Ensure Educational Opportunities for Hispanic Children to Succeed.”