Florida Leads Way in Education Equality
State has narrowed gap between rich and poor students: ProPublica
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2011 12:10 PM CDT
Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush talks about the major overhaul of Florida's public education system in this 2010 file photo.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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(Newser) – Jeb Bush has made a name for himself for education reform in Florida, and a first-of-its kind analysis by ProPublica suggests he's not just blowing smoke by at least one important measure. Florida now has the highest percentage of high school students in advanced classes and, crucially, "that holds true across rich and poor districts." In other states—including Oklahoma, Maryland, and Kansas, 60 years removed from Brown vs. the Board of Education—the rich-poor gap remains wide. Generally speaking, kids in wealthy districts in those states have plenty of AP courses to choose from, and kids in high-poverty districts have few. (The story includes an interactive feature for people to see how their own schools stack up. Click here for that.)

Simply offering more AP classes isn't a cure-all, notes one critic: “When it comes to a struggling turnaround school, why in the world would you think that somehow plunking down an AP program would improve that school?” But it can be a crucial first step, say proponents: “When people in middle America look at this input data and realize that we’re never giving kids a shot in the first place, that American value of fundamental fairness starts kicking in,” says the head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. Click for the full story.