The Tampa Bay Times reported that a bi-partisan panel of legislators voiced support for teacher pay raises and less testing in schools. Even more surprising was the opinion that all there should be more equity in school accountability for public schools, charter schools and private schools. This has been a major issue in the League of Women Voters arguments that all schools that receive state funding directly or indirectly through tax credit vouchers should meet the same testing and accountability standards.
Who is supporting public schools? Is there a war brewing?
Republican Senators David Simmons (Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education) and Jack Latvala (Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman) voiced clear support for revisions to current practice. Support for extra time and tutoring are on the list. Democrat Senator Bill Montford stated that testing was too pervasive and should be reduced.
This may signal bi-partisan support in the Florida Senate, but comparable signals in the Florida House have not yet been given.
John Romano, a Times journalist, warns readers that a big battle over public schools vs private and charter schools is looming in the legislature. led by House Speaker Corcoran who vows to dramatically increase charters and vouchers. Romano states that public schools are not the problem, poverty is. If vouchers and charters continue to expand, they will harm public schools. Children who are left behind in public schools would face schools with even more concentrated poverty and its related problems.
Romano stated: The time is long overdue to remind lawmakers who want to divert education funds into private and corporate hands that you are not just a parent, not just a taxpayer. You are a VOTER.
Make local battle plans before the legislative session begins.