Media Blog

President Obama’s Magic Touch With Miami Schools

In March, President Obama — along with Jeb Bush — visited Central H.S. here in Miami to congratulate the school on improving from an “F” school to a “C” school. And now:

Two iconic Miami-Dade schools — one of which was held up by President Barack Obama as a national model for education reform — may have to close their doors or be converted into charter schools because they have not shown the required improvements by a controversial state rule.

For three years, Miami Central and Miami Edison have been on the state Department of Education’s list of struggling public schools, despite raising their grades from F’s to C’s. That’s not enough progress, the state says, and a more radical change could be called for.

In April, President Obama gave the commencement address at Miami Dade C.C. An excerpt from the president’s remarks at the ceremony:

It is such a thrill to be at one of the largest, most diverse institutions of higher learning in America — one that just this week was named one of the top community colleges in the nation.  (Applause.)  More than 170,000 students study across your eight campuses.  You come from 181 countries, represented by the flags that just marched across this stage.  You speak 94 languages.  About 90 percent of you are minorities.  And because more than 90 percent of you find a job in your field of study, it’s fitting that your motto is “Opportunity changes everything.”

And now:

Miami Dade College accreditation threatened

Miami Dade College, the largest public college in the country, has been warned it could lose its accreditation because it does not have enough full-time faculty.

Although the school strongly disagrees with the finding, some inside and outside MDC fear this could be the first sign that all of Florida’s public colleges could be in jeopardy, as each deals with dwindling state dollars and surging enrollments.

“These cuts have been happening at Miami Dade College and other community colleges in the state for years,” said state Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, who serves on the committee that funds higher education. “I worry that the college system in Florida will eventually become almost devastated by budget issues.”

It is difficult for a college to operate without accreditation. Students cannot receive federal financial aid and would likely have trouble transferring their credits. MDC and other community colleges also play a big part in training the local workforce, so the business community could be adversely affected if a school loses accreditation.

Now the first case is sad. The kids that are coming into Central H.S. are so far behind, I’m not sure there is a right answer. That’s a long-term problem and I would agree that the current principals need more time to show results. Miami Dade is a different story, as the school has been caught admitting students who are obtaining bogus high school diplomas. Without accreditation, there will be no federal financial aid, and without aid, no more school I would gather. Miami Dade needs to get its house in order.

But with both examples, press coverage was lauded on the president during his trip. Now that the schools are in trouble, not so much.



The Latest