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THE GOVERNANCE DIVIDE - The Case Study for Florida


Florida's education governance systems have undergone some of the most drastic restructuring of any in the country, making Florida the first state to develop and implement a K–20 governance system. Almost all lines of state education authority, from early childhood education through postsecondary education, fall under the State Board of Education, whose commissioner reports to the governor. The state is using major governance changes to aid in the creation of a K–20 education system. Many elements of the system have been in place for decades, such as a statewide articulation agreement and a common course numbering system. Others are new, such as the evolving accountability, data, and performance-funding systems—as well as a new Board of Governors, which replaces the recently abolished Board of Regents.

This study examines the state's recent K–20 reforms, with a focus on state-level initiatives, governance, and related structures. The primary research questions included the following:

  • To what extent is K–20 reform perceived as a state policy concern? What are the incentives and disincentives for improved connections?

  • What are the main goals and objectives of current state-level K–20 reforms? Who is responsible for developing and implementing those changes?

  • What have been the main successes and failures to date?

Interviews were conducted with state-level policymakers, administrators, business leaders, researchers, and others involved in reforms. The research was conducted in November 2003, during a time when the governance and policy reforms were undergoing significant transformation. Much has changed since the research was conducted.

Some interviewees described Florida's governance restructuring as a series of political events. Others said the changes were developed in line with state priorities (for example, economic development within a competitive global market). In light of these differences in perspective by interviewees, this study seeks to describe the path the reforms have taken and the role of recent governance changes in enabling the development and institutionalization of K–20 reforms.

This report begins with a summary of recent relevant political, governance, and education reforms in order to provide a context for later discussions of specific K–20 efforts. It outlines the previous policies and programs that contributed to the development of a K–20 foundation in the state. Next, the report summarizes the content of the current K–20 reforms, their effects, and the challenges they face in aligning K–12 and postsecondary education. The report concludes with reflections about the sustainability of the K–20 reforms and the role of the current governance structure in their development and implementation. An appendix provides the interview questions for the research visit to the state.


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