Foundation for Florida’s Future releases 2014 legislative report card

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Report cards are in — for Florida legislators.

On Friday, the Foundation for Florida’s Future released Florida’s 2014 Education Report Card, which grades Florida lawmakers on their efforts to improve the quality of statewide education.

Among the education issues facing the Florida Capitol last session, included bills linked to accountability, school choice, digital learning technology in classrooms and what the group calls “parent-directed spending accounts,” also known as vouchers.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush founded the Foundation for Florida’s Future shortly after his 1994 unsuccessful bid for governor.

For the recently ended session, the Report Card ranked the actions of lawmakers through seven benchmarks: rigorous academic standards, standardized measurement, data-driven accountability, effective teachers and leaders, outcome-based funding, school choice and digital learning. Each lawmaker was graded on a 0-100 scale based on legislators’ voting records and demonstrations of leadership, with some receiving “extra credit.”

This year the top honors went to eight Republican house members, each receiving an “A+” grade — with grades over 100 — on the Foundation’s agenda: Manny Diaz Jr. (grade of 128), Erik Fresen (120), Janet Adkins (110), Michael Bileca (110), Jake Raburn (110), Charles McBurney (106), Ross Spano (105) and Ritch Workman (104).

In all, 70 House members received “A” grades — all Republicans.  House Democrats failed across the board; Rep. Dwayne Taylor fared the best, with a score of 50, and four– Lori Berman, Janet Cruz, José Rodríguez and Hazelle Rogers – were at the bottom with a score of 13.

Unsurprisingly, no House Democrat rose above an “F” grade.

Senate scores were a bit more bipartisan, with Democratic Sens. Gwen Margolis (100), Darren Soto (100) and Jeremy Ring (105) each getting “A” grades. Ring was the sole Democrat with an “A+.” Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard received the lowest grade of 44.

Republican Senators receiving an “A+”: Anitere Flores (102), Rob Bradley (104), Jeff Brandes (105), Andy Gardiner (105), Bill Galvano (110), Dorothy Hukill (110), Kelli Stargel (115) and John Legg (120).

Out of the Republicans — Sen. Greg Evers — received the lowest grade of 73, giving him a “C.”

“It was a good session for Florida students,” said executive director Patricia Levesque. “And we should thank Florida lawmakers for that.”

“I am grateful to all the legislative members who supported meaningful education policies,” she added. “These changes will truly be life-changing for students and families throughout the state.”

The complete Florida’s 2014 Education Report Card is at www.AFloridaPromise.org.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.