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Saturday, September 16, 2017

The class size amendment is under attack... again

Once again, the class size amendment is under attack from Dominic M. Calabro, CEO, Florida Tax Watch and Bob Ward, CEO, Florida Council of 100, and once again they use faulty reasoning in the editorial they sent to the states papers to do so.
A little history about the class size amendment, it was overwhelmingly passed by the people of Florida in 2002, and then reapproved in 2010. However, since then, the Florida legislature has systematically tried to water it down and dismantle it until today when it is just a shadow of what was originally approved with loopholes so big you could drive school buses through, yet still it is under attack and the reason is money, people like Calabro and Ward and sadly the Florida Legislature don’t want to invest in our public schools. Florida consistently ranks in the bottom five of student spending on education and without the class size amendment funding we would undoubtedly be lat.
Calabro and Ward talk about reforms that don’t work, but they don’t mention the hundreds of millions of dollars the state has sent to charter schools of which over 350 have taken public money and closed leaving children and neighborhoods in a lurch and tax payers on the hook for their losses. They don’t mention the hundreds of millions annually filtered away from public schools to vouchers, which have practically no oversite, most of them don’t even have to report how they used the money. Then there is the best and brightest bonuses, which teachers earn based on their SAT scores and yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds. No, the only reform that has drawn heir ire is the class size amendment.
They point to a Harvard study which says smaller class sizes play little role in achievement after third grade and that study undoubtedly does exist, but it’s not the end all be all as there are many studies that say smaller class sizes are beneficial. I prefer to ask teachers what they think. If they think they can make more of a difference with 20 students at a time or 30 or 35. I think you already know their answer. I also don’t think it is a coincidence, especially considering our poor funding. that our graduation rates have skyrocketed since the class size amendment was initiated.
What’s always been amazing to me is these critics of public education, that want to experiment with fringe ideas (best and Brightest), jack up class sizes, the one reform that has evidence that says it works, or want to push privatization under the guise of school choice, is they never suggest reforms that will help teachers.
This is what always baffles me about the ed reform movement, they never say, you know what we have to pay teachers more, a lot more, and they never say let’s take some pressure off teachers, lighten their work loads, give them more resources, let’s back them up with discipline or you know common sense things that teachers have been begging and clamoring for. Nope, it’s let’s make YOUR children’s classes larger.

The class size amendment has already been approved twice by the people of Florida, instead of continuing to ignore the will of the people, the Florida legislature should do what the people demanded they do, after all, we are supposed to be in charge.

If you want to support your children and the state’s teachers ignore the proposal to further gut the class size amendment and please demand the legislature properly fund education.

Chris Guerrieri

School Teacher

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