Raise Expectations Of Education South Florida College Heads Tell Chamber
Written by Ashley Hopkins on June 9, 2011
By Ashley Hopkins
With an educational summit planned for Sept. 13, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is considering which initiatives it plans push in Tallahassee, with many county officials agreeing that the chamber needs to focus on raising standards within Miami-Dade’s business and political communities.
At the chamber’s annual goals conference, Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg told the Education Committee that the "business community needs to raise its expectations" in terms of what initiatives it expects to see come out of county’s educational system.
Since political leaders will hold future generations accountable if educators do not, he said, the business community needs to ensure that county officials are pushing initiatives that hold education officials to high standards. By upping its expectations, Dr. Rosenberg said, the business community can help ensure that area youth get the experience they need to succeed later in life.
José Vicente, president of Miami Dade College’s north campus, agreed with Dr. Rosenberg, adding that the political and educational communities should be held to similar expectations.
While politicians are held responsible for pushing initiatives that strengthen the area’s educational system, educators should work to raise their own benchmarks, he said.
Since area businesses will import talent from other areas if they cannot find qualified help within the county, Dr. Vicente said, educators must make sure that area youth are properly trained and don’t become "second-class citizens in their own community."
Sister Linda Bevilacqua, president of Barry University, said educators must be "diligent" and "accountable" when setting political standards. She recommended that the chamber invite area politicians, as well as educators and business leaders, to the educational summit as it would allow all groups to "share educational resources" and set common goals.
As financing educational initiatives is always a county concern, Alberto M. Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools, recommended the chamber use the summit as an opportunity to push for state funding.
Since Florida is now 50th in the nation in terms of state financing, Mr. Carvalho said, the chamber should take a "united stand" that would hold legislators responsible for funding Miami-Dade’s educational pursuits. If more money is to come down the county’s financial pipeline, he said, the chamber needs the "political courage" to bring a strong educational platform to Tallahassee in September.
Supporting Mr. Carvalho’s call, Dr. Rosenberg suggested the chamber invite Sen. Don Gaetz and Rep. Will Weatherford to the summit. Sen. Gaetz, former Okaloose County superintendent of schools, chairs the Senate’s committee on education from pre kindergarten to the 12th grade. Rep. Weatherford chairs both the House Education Policy Council and the State and Community Colleges and Workforce Appropriations Committee.
Dr. Rosenberg said he himself plans to reach out to state politicians, adding that the county needs to be "as serious about education as [it is] about promoting area businesses."
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