A Florida TaxWatch Commentary by Bob Nave (Vice President of Research)
How can scholastic debate and the business community work together to drive Florida's students forward? One option is to look at existing programs, like the Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) Debate Initiative, which now boasts approximately 15,000 students in every high school and learning center, every middle school, and in more than 100 elementary schools. The Initiative is a partnership between BCPS and local businesses, whose sponsorships and donations are critical in supporting debate opportunities for BCPS students.
Shifting demographics as the Baby Boomer generation exits the labor force will also fuel broader changes for the working population. For these reasons, the needs of the future workforce place a premium on human skills development—equipping individuals with the requisite skills to be prepared for a workforce full of disruption and displacement. Increasingly, postsecondary institutions and industry will both be crucial to training workers for an ever-evolving economy.
FOR STUDENTS, LEARNING IS A CUMULATIVE PROCESS WHEREBY KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS ARE DEVELOPED OVER SUCCESSIVE YEARS. As such, any sudden and large disruption to in-person instruction can have a cascading effect on student learning and life outcomes beyond formal education. Due to COVID-19, the unprecedented disruption in learning, especially for K-12 students, raises concerns about what unfinished learning may mean for academic achievement, mental health, and social development in the future. So what happens now?
Broward UP (“Unlimited Potential”) is an innovative, community-centric approach to delivering necessary workforce education in communities most impacted by high unemployment and low education attainment. Pioneered by Broward College, Broward UP seeks to increase college access, improve degree and certificate attainment, and raise economic mobility in six Broward County ZIP codes with disproportionately higher rates of unemployment and lower educational attainment relative to surrounding areas. By providing free, in-demand courses, Broward UP holistically reduces the perpetuation of poverty in communities.
On May 14, 2020, Florida TaxWatch held a virtual roundtable discussion composed of nine current winners of TaxWatch’s prestigious Principal Leadership Award to discuss ways to improve the overall quality of pre-K–12 education by improving the leadership qualities of our principals. Moderated by our Vice President for Research Bob Nave, the panel discussed obstacles to effective school leadership; ways to attract and retain high-quality teachers; professional development for principals; how to get the most from teachers; and principal autonomy. TaxWatch is pleased to present this summary report and its recommendations, and we look forward to a continued discussion with Florida lawmakers and policymakers in advance of the 2021 legislative session.