The atrocious performance of our education system is the direct result of two areas where Governor Scott and Republicans in Tallahassee have come up short: underpaying teachers and underfunding preschools.
We all know what a difference a good teacher can make in helping students learn the material. They are the most important factor in helping our students succeed. And yet our state government pays teachers salaries that they can barely survive on.
No wonder that 50% of teachers leave the profession altogether within five years of starting. I will fight for sharp increases in teacher salaries so that we can retain the many talented people who want to help our kids learn.
In addition, research over the last few decades has clearly shown that the most critical phase in a person's life when it comes to learning is in the first five years. 90% of brain development occurs during that period.
Floridians recognized the importance of this phase when they voted in 2002 to provide all 4-year olds in the state with access to preschool.
However, 16 years later, the quality of our preschool program ranks near the bottom of the country. Why? It's simple: whereas the national average for per-child funding is $5,008, here in Florida it's only $2,282.
The lack of a strong, early foundation results in students who later show up to 4th and 8th grade unprepared. Our kids deserve better, and I intend to deliver for them.