More Excuses On Florida Education From Republicans
A new website called Florida Wants Smaller Class Sizes has an online petition. Republicans say that there is not enough money to fund class-size reductions. Even though tax revenue will grow by $960 million in the next fiscal year. Another excuse was Jim King saying, "In Duval, for example, we have to build over 20 schools in two years." Then there was the new excuse of just not wanting to spend the money for new classrooms.
"The governor put $1.9 billion, roughly, in his budget for class-size reduction," said Senate President Tom Lee. "You couldn't spend that kind of money for class-size reduction in this state over a five-year period, probably. There just isn't the construction capacity. There's not the planning system in place. There's not the school sites ready to receive that level of spending."
That must be the first time I've heard a member of the Florida legislator state he can't find ways to spend money. Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami said, "That's sort of a silly argument. You wouldn't use it for prisons. We shouldn't use it for educating children." Florida didn't seem to have a problem building 84 new prisons. That's not counting the empty juvenile prisons in Martin County, Key West, and Okeechobee County. It seems there is a greater emphasis to imprisoning children than educating them.
The increase in class-size spending would allow Florida to meet it's constitional requirement of providing high quality education. The state failed to meet constitutional requirements in 2005. Florida ranked an impressive 48th in per-pupil spending. The Florida legislature's response was to repel this amendment. The reason being was so tax dollars could still be spent on school vouchers. The voucher program is so unpopular with parents that only 700 students participate. Republicans also refuse to have voucher students take the FCAT test. One test certainly doesn't fit all.
Public education is a disaster in Florida. Parents want class-size reductions and a "high-quality" education. Why do Republicans think their education proposals are a winner? Most of the voucher students go to religious schools and the GOP is determined to keep the base happy. No matter how much damage is done to education. There decisions are using politics to form policy. Not the other way around.