On March 8th Florida’s Legislative session opens under the dark cloud of Governor Scott’s proposed $3.3 Billion dollar cut to public education.
There should be no cuts to education, period.
Article IX, section 1 of the Florida Constitution says providing and funding a high-quality system of public education is the legislature’s paramount duty.
What does “Paramount” mean? It means first.
Are we funding education first? No.
Every year, in good times and in bad, the Florida Legislature plays henny penny. They run from interview to interview warning that the education cuts are coming.
Their message is crystal clear: Legislators dismiss the Florida Constitution. They do not view Public education as a worthy investment.
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This charade has got to stop. Florida needs to get its fiscal house in order. There are two sides to every balance sheet – income and expenses. Budgets are about priorities.
Florida politicians give $21 million of tax income every year to professional sports teams while many counties are cutting art and music from their elementary schools. If a millionaire wants to buy a yacht, they pay no sales tax, costing us $78 million in income, but parents are forced to bring copy paper, toner, toilet paper and hand sanitizer to our schools. We exempt bottled water from sales tax, costing us $42 million dollars in income but middle school sports programs and many high school electives required by colleges have been cut.
Exemptions like these add up to nearly $5 Billion dollars. Every year.
Florida politicians have used the recession disaster to confuse and convince us that the only solution is deep cuts to our schools.
Legislators will walk into session on day one with the most controversial legislation packaged as joint resolutions. Using this tactic, there will be no amendments allowed from the floor.
Senate Bill 736, the reincarnation of last year’s Senate Bill 6. Is scheduled for a full and final vote on March 9th, the day after session opens.
This so-called “teacher quality” bill dramatically increases the pressure on our children to deliver on FCAT so teachers can keep their jobs, get higher pay and better evaluations. Nothing in this bill has been proven to work. Building an entire curriculum on “teaching to the test” does not provide our children with a constitutionally mandated high quality education.
Our children won’t just be taking FCAT – there will be high-stakes test for every class your child has. Even courses like art, which might be only thirty minutes a week will have its own high-stakes test.
This bill forces districts to create thousands of end of course exams with no funding. Senate Bill 736 places the entire burden of the success or failure of Florida Public Schools on the tiny backs of our children. This unfunded bill, filled with unproven and undeveloped reforms comes with a $2 Billion dollar price tag.
If we’re as “broke” as they say, why are they saddling taxpayers with a $2 Billion dollar unfunded burden?
Our elected officials know that this is wrong. They know we won’t like it. That’s why they are rushing to put it to a full vote within the first 24 hours of session.
What is the motive for planning to pass an entire agenda in the first week of session?
Are they trying to silence our voices?
Say no to Senate Bill 736 and its $2 billion dollar price tag.
Contact them right now. There’s no time to waste. We have to act fast. Legislation that hurts children is just plain wrong.