RIVIERA BEACH — After visiting an elementary school that has improved from a D grade to an A in four years, Gov. Charlie Crist said public schools in Florida and Palm Beach County are “on the rise.”
Crist and his wife, Carole Crist, visited Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School this morning, greeting cafeteria workers, administrators and safety patrols and stopping in on three classes.
Crist is also slated to meet with restaurateurs in Palm Beach County today and to attend a fund-raiser in Manalapan tonight for his U.S. Senate bid.
“I can’t tell you how impressed I am with your school and your accomplishments here and what you’ve been able to do in a short period of time,” Crist said after being shown around by principal Glenda Sheffield.
Bethune Elementary got an F grade in 2002 based on its Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores and was a D school in 2006. After Sheffield became principal, the school got C grades in 2007 and 2008 and an A this year.
“You’re an A school. And it wasn’t that long ago that Bethune Elementary wasn’t an A school. That kind of gain and that kind of accomplishment is exactly what Florida students deserve and what they should have,” Crist said.
Asked about the controversy in Palm Beach County over its use of tests roughly every three weeks to measure whether students are on track, Crist gave a vote of confidence to Superintendent Art Johnson.
“I think we’re getting better every day,” Crist said. “I think that’s the message we want to convey to people that may have concerns. Florida’s on the rise and Palm Beach County clearly is on the rise. The leadership that Art has provided here is exceptional.”