Florida governor unveils new education initiatives

TALLAHASSEE Fla. Mon Aug 25, 2014 8:29pm BST

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott speaks at a ceremony opening new newsroom facilities for the Univision and Fusion television networks in Doral, Florida August 28, 2013.  REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott speaks at a ceremony opening new newsroom facilities for the Univision and Fusion television networks in Doral, Florida August 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Skipper

TALLAHASSEE Fla. (Reuters) - Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, unveiled two new education initiatives on Monday aimed at calming critics of "common core" national curriculum standards and countering his main Democratic rival's attacks on his record.

"We want to make sure that our students have every opportunity to succeed in the classroom and in their careers, and we want to make sure our teachers have every tool they need to make that possible," Scott said in a statement through his re-election campaign.

Former Governor Charlie Crist, running against Scott as a Democrat, made a statewide school bus tour this month, blasting the governor for $1.3 billion in education spending cuts in 2011.

The money was restored in subsequent legislative sessions, and Scott announced plans last week to add $700 million in state school support if he is re-elected, boosting per-pupil funding to a record $7,176.

Scott said on Monday he would have Florida's Department of Education "investigate" all standardized testing and create an independent review committee to look for ways to deregulate the 67 county school boards in their selection of instructional materials.

Skepticism is strong in Tea Party Republican circles, Scott's political base, towards education policies originating in Washington.

The governor also proposed doubling the state's current $40 million in digital learning programs.

Scott also outlined a "keep college affordable" plan requiring colleges to inform students of the cost of course materials and publicly announce any planned price increases.

(Reporting by Bill Cotterell; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jim Loney)