Everyone has speculated about why LeBron James chose Florida as his next home court. Maybe it was the lower tax rate, perhaps the sunny beaches, or perhaps to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in pursuit of countless championships. Here’s another possibility: LeBron wants to be in a state that wins both on the court and in the classroom.
In Cleveland, 58 percent of eighth-grade students are below basic in math, compared to just 36 percent of students in Miami. Similarly, 27 percent of 8th graders are below basic in reading in Miami versus nearly half of all eighth-graders in Cleveland.
And Cleveland spends a full $2,000 more per student than Miami.
On a positive note, Cleveland does have a successful school voucher program which allowed more than 6,000 low-income children to attend private schools last year. But while Ohio has pockets of reform, such as the voucher program, Florida has implemented a state-wide education reform program to the benefit of all children in the Sunshine State.
Beginning in 1998 under the tenure of Governor Jeb Bush, Florida began implementing a suite of sweeping education reforms. They introduced merit pay bonuses, began grading schools on an A-F scale, created high state standards, ended social promotion and allowed for alternative teacher certification.
The result? African American students in Florida now outpace or tie the statewide average of all students in reading in eight states. Impressively, Hispanic students in Florida now outpace or tie the statewide average of all students in 31 states. Florida has significantly narrowed the achievement gap, while at the same time improving results for all students. Talk about Miami heat!