Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media during a visit to the Florida International Academy charter school on January 6, 2011 in Opa Locka, Florida. Scott visited the school with Michelle Rhee, who was the former head of public schools in Washington, D.C., and now will serve the governor as the Informal Education Advisor to the Governor.
Gov. Rick Scott said on Friday schools might be doing too much of a good thing when it comes to student testing and he is talking with state education officials, school superintendents and teachers about possibly changing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
The governor addressed a conference of newspaper editors from five Southern states and he defended his decision not to have Florida participate in an expansion of Medicaid under the health care overhaul recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. He also said government needs to be more transparent and Florida has job openings that can't be filled because the state doesn't have enough graduates with the needed degrees to fill them.
On student testing, Scott said the state received more parent complaints this year than in past years, especially about the FCAT.
"Parents and taxpayers expect measurement. We've got to measure, we've to find out who the best schools are," Scott said. "We have to have a good measurement system but we have to make sure we don't have too much of it."
He said among the FCAT, federal testing and end-of-course exams, students might be tested too much. He said he is talking officials and teachers about what changes should be made.
"In the end I think it's going to change a lot," he said.
Scott was also asked about President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The Republican governor repeated that the state would not expand the Medicaid program in order to lower the number of uninsured residents, nor would Florida set up a state-run health exchange, a marketplace where people who need insurance policies could shop for them.
"The problem with health care is cost, it's not an insurance issue. It's the fact that health care is way too high," Scott said. "If we want to make sure that people have access to health care, that they have the ability to purchase insurance, we're not going to do it by just saying, 'Oh, you get something.' We've got to figure out how to do it less expensively and with more accountability."
Scott also told the editors that he supports more transparency in government. He talked about why he decided to post his and his staffs' emails online and said by the end of the year every agency under his control will also have staff emails posted on the internet.
"Most of the agencies in state government will be putting up all of their emails so people can follow what's happening in state government," he said. "We're trying to find everything that either the media is interested in or the public is interested in and just put it up publicly — give people all the information."
Scott also said Florida needs to find a way to get its universities to graduate more students with degrees that are needed in the workplace, saying the state has 240,000 job openings but not all can be filled.
"We have job openings in areas where we don't have enough graduates. So my focus is to get our universities to really look at how they're spending their money," Scott said. "It ought to be spent in areas where individuals are getting jobs. I think where we can do much better is to be way more focused on where the job openings are."