Welcome to Florida! Bienvenido a Florida!
This election is about the future of this nation. We can shape that future with what we do here, with what we do November 6.
We can restore America's greatness.
That starts with a strong economy, a smart energy policy, lower deficits, and a president who puts America's workers and job-creators first.
But to have a great future - a secure future - a future that is equal to our potential as a nation, we need to do something else.
We must make sure that our children and grandchildren are ready for the world we are shaping today.
It starts in our homes, in our communities, and especially in our schools.
As a candidate and Governor, I visited over 400 schools. I saw children read their first sentences. Solve their first long-division problems. Explore the miracles of chemistry and physics.
That's the essence of education - students getting a chance at a future.
There are many reasons to believe America's future is bright, but also reasons to worry.
Of 34 advanced nations in the world, American students rank 17th in science, 25th in math.
Only one-fourth of high school graduates are ready for their next steps.
China and India produce eight times more engineering students each year than the United States.
There is a moral cost to our failing schools.
We say that every child in America has an equal opportunity. Tell that to a kid in whose classroom learning isn't respected.
Tell that to a parent stuck in a school where there is no leadership. Tell that to a young, talented teacher who just got laid off because she didn't have tenure.
The sad truth is that equality of opportunity doesn't exist in many of our schools. We give some kids a chance, but not all.
That failure is the great moral and economic issue of our time. And it's hurting all of America.
I believe we can meet this challenge.
We need to set high standards for students and teachers and provide students and their parents the choices they deserve.
The first step is a simple one.
We must stop pre-judging children based on their race, ethnicity or household income.
We must stop excusing failure in our schools and start rewarding improvement and success.
We must have high academic standards that are benchmarked to the best in the world.
All kids can learn. Governor Romney believes it, and the data proves it. While he was governor, Massachusetts raised standards and today their students lead the nation in academic performance.
Here in Florida in 1999, we were at the bottom of the nation in education.
For the last decade, this state has been on a path of reform. Under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott and local leaders, our focus every day is whether students are learning. That's it.
Today, more students are reading on grade level, passing rigorous college prep courses and graduating from high school.
And perhaps most exciting, those traditionally left behind are showing the greatest gains.
Among African-American students, Florida is ranked fourth in the nation for academic improvement.
Among low-income students, we're ranked third for our gains.
Among students with disabilities, we're ranked first.
And among Latino students, the gains were so big, they required a new metric. Right now, Florida's fourth grade Hispanic students read as well or better than the average of all students in 21 states and the District of Columbia.
These kids were once written off. But today thanks to teachers like Sean Duffy we're changing that.
I'm honored to be an educator, to help the next generation of leaders, thinkers, builders, and entrepreneurs. Sadly, I'm part of a dwindling field.
I've seen too many good teachers come and go, mainly due to poor working conditions and little pay. Bad teachers get locked into the system and good teachers leave for more money.
On top of the bureaucratic challenges, what we're teaching doesn't always match what our students need.
To that end, I launched a STEM lab at my high school. These labs focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and help students learn proficiency in these fields.
We turn students away from education each year by not providing a robust curriculum that keeps up with the world in which these students live - and will eventually work.
And at the end of the day, all of what we do from the educators to the policy makers has to be student-focused and student-centered.
Students matter most.
Thanks, Sean. I know Del Valle High School is proud of your efforts.
We need more great teachers like you. Teachers who don't give up on a kid, who recognize that every child can learn, and don't waste a precious year of a student's life.
If you're a great teacher and your students are mastering their subjects, no matter your age or years of experience, you should have a job.