Tallahassee, Florida - Gov. Rick Scott says he wants to reduce red tape in Florida schools so teachers can focus more on teaching and less on bureaucracy.
The governor plans to pick five superintendents around the state to come up with ideas on how to reduce unnecessary paperwork for teachers. As one example, Scott says teachers should not have to waste time filling out reports on how much paper they are recycling.
Scott's announcement on Tuesday is one result of the education listening tour that he took around Florida over the past week.
The governor said he heard the frustrations of teachers upset with the way they are perceived and he listened to suggestions from parents, students, superintendents and school board members.
Scott said he wants more efficiency in schools and more control for local districts.
"There's a lot of paperwork. There's mandates, unfunded mandates, and so I want to go through them. Clearly, we know there's some things we have to do at the state level. But as much as we can move things to the district level --local individuals are electing their school boards and some districts electing their superintendents -- I think they'll make a better decision."
Critics said the governor's listening tour looked more like a public relations tour touting increased funding for education this year. Some educators said the state requires too much testing and puts too much emphasis on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. They think students are stressed out over testing-mania.
Gov. Scott said he wants to make sure testing is done for the right reasons because measurement is important, but he stated it's not a war on teachers.
"I want to make sure that we continue to move forward, make sure that everything we do is, 'How do we make sure that that child is getting ready for either college or a career?'"
Scott has been increasing his focus and comments on education in recent months. On Tuesday, he called it his biggest priority and said he's committed to sustaining education funding in the future.
That prompted a reporter to ask if the governor has made education a higher priority than jobs, which has been his number one focus since his campaign.
Scott said they were both important.
"I don't think you take a typical family that, first off, they have to have a job. I know what my family went through. My parents struggled my entire childhood. They had a terrible time getting jobs. But at the same time, they wanted to make sure I and my three brothers and sister got an education. So I don't think you can pick one or the other. And if you look at where the state's going long term, if we have the best education system we're going to have the jobs."