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Lawmakers Begin Education Reform Talks on Movie Night

By: Troy Kinsey Email
By: Troy Kinsey Email

Tallahassee, FL - State lawmakers are back in Tallahassee.
But you won't find them at the capitol. Try this movie theater, where policy, politics and popcorn all come together.

Republican leaders want every member of the legislature to watch 'Waiting for Superman'...
A controversial new documentary about education reform, featuring a woman Governor-elect Rick Scott has picked to head his education transition team - former Washington, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Rhee says, "You wake up every morning and you know that 46-thousand kids are counting on you, and that most of them are getting a really crappy education right now."

Rhee attracted national attention for shutting down under-performing schools and firing principals.Florida Education Commissioner Eric Smith calls Rhee's approach just the kind of revolution public education might need.

Smith says, "The key is that it's about kids. That is what's central to me, in the film, and in our work. It's about students and making sure they're adequately prepared, and there is a connection, a very obvious connection, I think, to all of us, that the quality of our teachers leads to quality work by kids."

When it comes to this movie viewing, the feature is only the beginning.
Chances are good the sequel could be about to come to a state capitol near you...
With the plot revolving around the politically-thorny topic of teacher tenure.

GOP leaders plan to revive their ill-fated plan to link teacher pay and job security to student performance and 2011 could be their year.
But House Minority Leader Ron Saunders says a movie won't be enough to sway many minds.

Saunders says, "We'll work with them if they do some good things for education reform. If they go too far, not only will Democrats not vote for it, maybe some Republicans won't either."

The question for Republicans now...How far is too far?
They may well find out when the lights come up.


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