State Senator Dwight Bullard had some harsh words for Gov. Rick Scott’s education summit, which is entering its second day in Clearwater.
"In the convening of this most recent education summit, Gov. Scott, [interim Education] Commissioner [Pam] Stewart and others will once again miss the opportunity to properly serve the students of Florida,” Bullard wrote in a statement Tuesday. "This missed opportunity stems from the 800-pound gorilla in the room -- admitting you've adopted bad policies."
Bullard, a Miami Democrat who sits on the Senate Education Committee, has been a vocal critic of many state education policies, ranging from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests to performance-based pay for teachers.
"In order to get it right you have to recognize where you went wrong," Bullard wrote. "Over testing, misdirection of dollars, failure to listen to stakeholder input, and countless other misfires that have now muddied the water of education. Clean up the mess and start from a good place in which all ideas are weighed on the value of their merit and not the size of their checkbook or political affiliation."
Bullard also criticized Scott for inviting a disproportionate number of white men to the summit.
Other lawmakers, however, have praised Scott's education summit, including Senate President Don Gaetz and Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg.
“Governor Scott should be commended for elevating the conversation on education in the State of Florida,” Legg wrote in a statement last week. “It is of utmost importance to convene the stakeholders to create a comprehensive strategy and I am honored to take part."
Gaetz said the summit would "provide the leaders of our Senate committees on education and education appropriations the opportunity to collect various perspectives and ideas."
He added: "The Senate looks forward to working with the Governor to build on the gains Florida’s public education system has made over more than a decade and we appreciate the opportunity to have a seat at the table for this significant event."