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Sunday, April 12, 2015

By killing the class size amendment Tallahassee has stuck a knife in the heart of democracy

It has probably flown under the radar in most circles but Tallahassee is about to stick a knife in the heart of democracy. In 2002 the citizens of Florida voted to limit Florida’s class sizes, which is a reform that has a proven track record of success, unlike merit pay, charter schools and high stakes testing Florida’s other preferred reforms.

In 2010 the legislature balking at paying for more teachers tried to have the original amendment changed so it would no longer look at individual class sizes but instead school wide averages. The people of Florida said no, meaning they had twice voted for smaller class sizes.

The legislature then decided to circumnavigate the will of the people by changing most classes from core classes, including advanced placement classes, to electives. Art, music and PE classes ballooned and many soon had 70, 80 or even more students.   

Now once again they are seeking to ignore the will of the people as the legislature in Tallahassee is about to pass senate bill 818 which says no longer will districts get fined for being out of compliance. Now I always though Tallahassee instead of constantly trying to kill the class size amendment should have properly funded it but when they remove the teeth which forced district to comply with it, they will effectively kill the bill. In effect why should districts comply if there is no longer any reason for them to do so?

By symbolically sticking a knife in the heart of the class size amendment after gutting most of the requirements a few years ago, Tallahassee has also ignored the will of the people, twice, and stuck a knife in the heart of democracy as well.

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