Legacy 2015 South Florida: Top Black Educators Issue - Page 6

6BB AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MIA MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS GROUP TO THE SUN SENTINEL EXECUTIVE SUITE By Zach Rinkins FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2015 Meet Pamela Stewart: Florida’s Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, Florida’s education commissioner leads the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), the single repository of education data from school districts, state and community colleges, universities and independent post-secondary institutions. FDOE has an operating budget of $18.6 billion; manages more than 2,400 full-time positions; and oversees 28 locally-governed public state colleges and 47 school district technical centers. “I have worked in Florida’s education system for more than 30 years – as an educator, principal and district administrator and my single favorite part of my jobs has always been seeing students reach and exceed their goals,” Stewart affirmed. “As Florida’s education commissioner, my goal is to ensure every public school student graduate has the skills and knowledge they need to achieve their college, career and life goals.” “Florida has made significant strides in recent years. We can credit that success to the department’s commitment to working together with our state’s college presidents, district superintendents, principals, teachers, parents and students to make sure we institute policies and initiatives that give our students the greatest chance at making their dreams a reality.” LM: Some critics feel the Florida Standards Assessment is not a valid assessment tool and that it’s culturally biased. How does FDOE address these claims for more equitable testing for communities when English is not primary language? PS: “There are several methods the department utilizes to ensure that there is not a cultural bias on Florida assessments and that accommodations are made for students for whom English is a second language. Regarding the FSA itself, test assessment items are reviewed rejected from consideration by Florida educators and panels of Florida community representatives to ensure that items are free from cultural bias or sensitivity issues. Every year item statistics are reviewed further to ensure that they accurately represent what students know and can do with respect to Florida's standards.” LM: What are the best ways for minority businesses to compete for FDOE procurement and business opportunities? PS: “One of the most important steps in conducting business with the State of Florida is to ensure the company is registered in MyFloridaMarketPlace (MFMP). This is the prime vendor list that all state agencies utilize when doing business. When completing this registration be sure to review the entire commodities and services list. It is very important to select commodity codes for the product or service your company provides. Secondly, reach out to the State of Florida Office of Supplier Diversity. If your company meets certain criteria, you maybe eligible to become a State of Florida Certified Minority Vendor with the Department of Management Services, Office of Supplier Diversity. Lastly, agencies have the ability to procure products/services by using State Term Contracts. These contracts are administered by the Department of Management Services and are required for all agencies to utilize. You can contact the Contract Manager of these contracts to obtain more information or learn how you may participate in future contracts.” LM: How does the Division of Career and Adult Education play a role in helping residents increase their quality of life? PS: “The Division of Career and Adult Education has several roles in helping Florida residents advance their education and careers. Within the division there are four separate areas of assistance: Career and Technical Education; High School Equivalency Diploma; Adult Education; and Apprenticeship.” For more information about Commissioner Stewart or FDOE, log on to www.FLDOE.org Funding tomorrow one day at a time The Florida Lottery Over the past 27 years, as the Florida Lottery has grown to become an industry leader, it has remained a dependable contributor to education in Florida. More than $1 billion in each of the past 12 fiscal years has been contributed to education to help support Florida’s students and schools. )