Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Nefarious Plan still opposes Class Size Reduction
by RW Spisak
They just can't seem to keep a good idea entirely throttled.
Jeb Bush, our too recent, unlamented governor, couldn't stand providing adequate funding for schools, and promised a NEFARIOUS PLAN to defeat the Public Mandate. Wait a tourist robbing minute, the public had spoken loud and clear, education in Florida sucked. A BIG Crowded part of the problem was class sizes which reached the high forties and fifties, and that was in classrooms sized for 20 to thirty students.
My son, took a history class in a Miami Dade County high school in a standard size room which didn't have enough chairs, desks or books, for the 48 students confined in it. The teacher used a microphone and a guitar amp to give his lecture over the noise of 48 students in his 20' x 20' room. The teacher explained it was the only way he could be heard.
The public had been incensed, with overcrowded unmanageable class sizes which started in high schools, and crept quickly down to even elementary schools. Jeb couldn't stop it, so he talked it to death. Finally it's time to get it done, and we have more excuses. It will require funding!
Now the excuse is money, we can save money says the latest committee of NaySayers... We can save MONEY, precious MONEY, (not precious young scholars) BUT MONEY!, if instead of counting class sizes, by actually counting the actual class size. They've proposed counting class sizes by counting averages, averaging class size over a district. But, if that fails, maybe they'll count over a region, or over a continent. But by all means, lets not waste the public's money on students.
So if you have a few limited classes with a handful of students, that will then excuse class sizes of 40 or 50 student units. And, in case you didn't know, Fire Department restrictions on the number of people for a given room size, do not apply to Schools. Lucky Students! They can keep each other warm, by breathing on each other.
The quality of Florida's education not only reflects... shall we say a frugal, penny-pinching, miserly, and absent-parent approach to funding, but that's not to say, there haven't been improvements. Just last week, Florida Science teachers are now able to use the word.... E-V-O-L-U-T-U-T-I-O-N as long as they genuflect, cross themselves and spin around twice, then spit, and say... just a theory, just a theory, just a theory?
So, don't say there hasn't been progress. But let us, Florida Parents, once and for all, put an end to the Jeb's UNDEAD NEFARIOUS PLAN and quit trying to change the Public Mandate, for smaller class sizes. Floridians know that children are our future, they need reduced class sizes, as experienced by actual students in actual classrooms.
Don't let the ghost of JEBBUSH's Legacy continue to throttle the public desire to make AN ACTUAL IMPROVEMENT in Florida's Under-Funded Schools. Don't let them GUT Bright Futures Scholarships either.
Tear out those dangerous poisonous, lingering Bush Roots strangling Florida's Scholars.
Look Here for Excuses
"Starting with the 2008-09 school year, individual districts must meet new size caps in each classroom, robbing school officials of the wiggle room they enjoyed during the phase-in period, when school systems were allowed to use districtwide and then schoolwide averages in calculating class sizes. The new requirements mean that districts must reduce pupil-teacher ratios in every classroom to 18-to-1 in prekindergarten though 3rd grade, 22-to-1 in grades 4-8, and 25-to-1 in high school, or face financial penalties..."
An Alternative View (People for the American Way)
Despite signing the bill, the governor is still pushing to repeal Amendment 9, stating: “If people want to change their minds, I will be there with my support and my vote.”75 In August 2003, the state Board of Education voted to support repealing part of the amendment. While the board supported smaller class sizes in kindergarten through grade three, they suggested repealing smaller class requirements from grade four onwards. All seven Board of Education members are chosen by the governor.76
Taking his cue from the Board of Education’s decision, House Speaker Johnnie Byrd (R-Plant City) is touting a ballot initiative asking voters to limit the class size reduction plan. Bryd has stated that he would eventually like the class size measure to be removed from the state constitution and instead have the issue be discussed in the legislature.77 Similarly, in October, State Senator Burt Saunders (R-Naples) began a public petition drive to partially eliminate Amendment 9.78
Governor Jeb Bush’s administration claims high costs of the class size reduction program as a reason for repeal. Education Commissioner Horne claims that the money saved by repealing Amendment 9 would be spent on teacher salaries, reading specialists, and technology and career preparation for high school students.79 But in fact, the state could adequately fund the program by eliminating a number of special interest loopholes and corporate tax breaks. The state loses an estimated $23 billion annually in sales tax revenue due to special interest loopholes and existing exemptions for things like adult entertainment, escort services, skyboxes at sporting events, and ostrich feed. Additionally, corporate tax breaks cost the state nearly $430 million in annual revenue.80 And in the last four years, Governor Bush has ordered $8 billion in tax cuts.81 In addition to all this, voucher and tuition tax credit programs cost the state millions more each year. Jeb Bush’s administration has failed to consider repealing special interest exemptions and corporate tax breaks, thereby freeing up hundreds of millions of dollars which could be used to make education a top priority in Florida.
Posted by Rick Spisak at 7:56 AM