rural areas of our state, I think there are 17 counties that dont have any advanced placement courses. As part of our "One Florida" initiative, weve increased funding for AP courses to attract African-American and Hispanic students, particularly in the rural areas. And its working. Because of that, theyre going to college now.
GT: Will this help kids learn more at their own pace for a more personalized and customized education?
Bush: This year were going to invest in an FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test) diagnostic tool. The idea would be that you could go on myflorida.com, click on education, click on some name - not sure what well call it yet - for FCAT diagnostic and youll see third through 10th grade math, reading and writing. Youll be able to determine where your child is. You can tell what grade level youre at, where you need remediation [and] where youre weak, and it will make suggestions on how to go about providing tools for teachers and parents to improve that.
The second element is to - through the Internet - provide strategies for teaching, so kids are not in classes where teachers are teaching to the test, but instead theyre teaching to the standards. And theyre doing so in a way that is rich and rigorous and fulfilling. Technology would be the tool.
Teachers in the classroom will become more like facilitators and they can use these resources on the Internet that are just awesome. The resources are already there, but arent packaged, and thats part of the problem in education. Its one of those institutions that is not in a competitive marketplace, so its not quick to respond to consumer needs. But were not going to a purely competitive marketplace.
Were [also] going to adopt Tom Luces "Just For Kids" idea. In Texas, the Just for Kids site
The idea is you can go to the Internet and see how your school is doing. When we test right now, we test and the grade is 310. That doesnt mean anything - 310 what? So next year were going to provide a grade-level equivalent. If youre in third grade and you did 310 in the reading, and you dont have any context, we will convert that to 3.5, so mom will know how the school is doing and how her child is doing. And if the child is way ahead of the standards, then she can push to have that kid taught at a faster pace. And if the child is behind, she wont tolerate the idea of social promotion. These tools will empower parents to become teachers of their kids, and active agents for them, to be able to move to a child-centered system.
GT: I want to now talk about your e-budget initiative. Skeptics would say that few citizens are really interested in budgets, so why go through the trouble of making it user friendly on the Web? Agencies, legislators and other interests didnt want that detailed information out there on the Web. Will it somehow improve governance?
Bush: [Its] the combination of technology and systemic reform that matters. Unit costs and performance criteria, combined with technology, allow citizens to become partners in the policy debate. They can make the process more open and transparent. It isnt just putting it on the Web, its changing how you make it work.
For example, in the traditional budget, you have the department of X and inside that there will be the division of Y and the bureau of Z and the section of A. Its all input driven. It would be "salaries," "rent," "telephones," "