Recently, Education Week’s new formula to calculate the national school system rankings dropped Florida from 6th to 28th in the nation. A report like this, though valuable in assessing systemic performance, undermines how and why Florida, and particularly Duval County, continues to be increasingly successful in some key areas of education.
For example, Florida ranked 12th in the nation for preschool enrollment. In Northeast Florida, this sort of good performance is supported by the strong collaboration between businesses and community agencies dedicated to early learning. Locally, United Way of Northeast Florida has led this collaboration in the Stand Up for Education (SUE) effort, which places a philanthropic focus on education initiatives.
Among these initiatives, Success By 6 provides children of hardworking families with a free two-year scholarship to a high-quality early education facility. When more students have access to quality early learning, we can continue to increase VPK enrollment rates and set students up for long-term success. SUE members are a major component of ensuring the availability of Success By 6 scholarships for students across Northeast Florida. Providing this opportunity to families who need it most can help secure and improve Florida’s place as a national leader in early education opportunities.
United Way and SUE companies also help locally improve metrics such as graduation rates where Florida has struggled statewide. By supporting Achievers For Life (AFL) and providing funding for the expansion of the proven dropout prevention program across the district, the SUE effort helps increase the number of Duval County students graduating on time. Over the past five years, Duval County’s matriculation has continued to rise and surpass the state average, a trend which United Way results will likely support as the early cohorts of AFL students reach their senior year.
Success By 6 and Achievers For Life demonstrate the combined power of intervening for our students who show signs of not completing their education and providing opportunities early on in their academic career to develop a love of learning.
It’s important to remember that, while we still have many changes to make at the state and local level, we are making progress in improving outcomes in the lives of students where it matters most, and we’re doing it in a way that shows how great things happen when we Live United.
We are grateful for the businesses and community members who give generously to invest in the future of education in Northeast Florida. SUE companies and individuals include: