Miami Herald: Miami-Dade’s top education leaders join forces

Nov 3, 2009

The Miami Herald published this article on November 3, 2009

Miami-Dade’s three public education leaders have formed an alliance to plead for more state funding for local education.


Miami-Dade has a new “dream team” — one dedicated to rescuing the area’s public educational system.

After nearly 15 years of staying in their own court, Miami-Dade’s top three education leaders have now joined forces. Their message: Miami-Dade’s underfunded educational system — from kindergarten to its community college to its four-year public university — is reeling from several years of severe state cuts and needs private-sector help.

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade College President Eduardo Padrón and Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg say their plea is the same, but now they’re pitching it together.

On Monday, they spoke as a team in front of some 200 business leaders at a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce luncheon to hear of the work of the group’s Education Committee Forum, which is helping formulate “a blueprint” to be used at next year’s legislative session by all three factions of local education.

“We need to speak with one voice and we will,” Padrón emphasized.

“We’re like the Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” Rosenberg said.

“Maybe we’re more like ponies,” Padrón chimed in, causing laughter in the packed room at the Miami Hilton Hotel on Biscayne Boulevard.

But all three men say they have been invigorated by their impromptu partnership, which began weeks ago with a town hall on education organized by Univisión-Noticias 23.

“Since then, we’ve met three times and will continue to do so; I can tell you that before this, we had not spoken with each other for 15 years,” said Padrón, the only one on the job long enough to remember.

Speaking in turn, the three on Monday tried to convince the business community they have a stake in helping. After all, the workers business hires are trained at local schools and universities.

“The business community needs to help us develop a blueprint to reach legislators in Tallahassee who collectively can bring about change,” Padrón said.

The three also detailed their concerns:

Rosenberg said if state cuts are severe again, students will feel it.

“Raising tuition next year is on the table,” he said. “We have no choice.”

Carvalho said he’s concerned about what will happen when $1.6 million in stimulus money for education disappears.

“I don’t see an army of education thinkers working to generate replacement dollars,” he said.

And Padrón said MDC’s open-door policy will continue, but cutbacks in classes and faculty members will affect students.