Education Forward! Summit

“One thing is certain; change is coming to education in Florida.  It is imperative that we are informed of these changes, of the proposed reforms and their possible consequences.  The repercussions of these changes will affect not only the lives of children from K-12, but will have long lasting impacts on their ability to obtain jobs and compete in a global economy.” – Maria Sachs


Senator Sachs, moderating the event, asks tough questions of the panelists on charters and vouchers, seen here from left: Diane Ravitch, Peter Cunnigham, Robert Dow.

On Wednesday January 26, 2011, Senator Sachs hosted a groundbreaking summit on Florida education.  The Summit represented a bold effort to bring together leading expert practitioners to participate in an open dialogue with electedofficials, teachers and community leaders on the key issues facing Florida’s education system.  Simulcast in Tallahassee, FL, the Summit tackled key reform issues that will face legislators in the upcoming legislative session, aiming to increase awareness of the research and expert opinions on either side of each proposed reform.

Working Together for Florida’s Children


Senator Sachs challenges the audience to be vocal in their support of education to the Florida legislature.

The impressive list of panelists participating at the event included former US Assistant Secretary of Education, Diane Ravitch, current Assistant Secretary of Education to the Obama administration Peter Cunningham, Florida Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Mary Jane Tappen, Associated Industries of Florida Executive Director Barney Bishop, Fedrick Ingram of the United Teachers of Dade, President of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association Robert Dow, Robert Schaeffer of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, and Arlene Lakin, President of Florida’s Voice on Developmental Disabilities.

Diane Ravitch opened the dialogue, addressing the need to support public education and the proud teaching profession.   Three panel discussions followed on key education reform topics such as curriculum development and testing, the intersection of State and Federal policies like Race to the Top, and the effect of charter and voucher programs on public education and student performance.

Over 500 teachers, elected officials and community leaders attended and participated in the event, submitting questions electronically in real time during the panel discussion.

“Everyone learned something today, including myself and the legislators listening in Tallahassee.  It is imperative that together we continue this conversation into session, in order to create the best opportunities for our students’ success,” said Senator Sachs after the summit’s conclusion.