Common Ground, a group described as a bipartisan working group of education advocates from across the state, has sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott asking him to veto the education bill passed during session.
The group was hopeful that bipartisan solutions could be found to address low performing schools, testing burdens and concerns regarding the worsening teachers’ shortage. However, the group concluded few ideas to address these major issues materialized.
“We respectfully request that you veto CS/HB 7069 and ask legislators to re-address its important K-12 education issues next session” says the letter dated May 15, 2017.
The letter addresses specific concerns about the legislation.
Schools of Hope
“We oppose the $140 million for “Schools of Hope”, which is clearly corporate welfare. Instead, we want sufficient funding for every Florida district to ensure that all students in struggling schools facing the impact of chronic poverty have access to the services needed to provide them with the quality education that the Florida Constitution states is the right of every child.
“Instead, Speaker Corcoran’s priority “Schools of Hope,” excluded innovative public schools from committee workshops on “Innovation.” Corcoran’s plan to set up a separate publicly funded network of corporate out-of-state charter schools, instead of supporting district/community based solutions, is unacceptable.”
Best and Brightest Bonus
“We oppose the Best and Brightest Bonus, even in its expanded form, because it does little more than provide $100 per month before taxes to certain teachers. It rewards teachers in ways that, even lawmakers admit, fail to correlate with quality teaching. Best and Brightest substitutes a gimmick for the general funding districts need to pay for permanent salary increases. The $234 million allocated for Best and Brightest should be granted to local school districts and their duly elected school boards, who are already empowered to make decisions regarding personnel and merit pay, based on their unique needs.”
“We oppose the lack of transparency during the development of CS/HB 7069. In the final 24 hours of session, it ballooned to 278 pages of unrelated education policies tied to spending. The origins of CS/HB 7069 are found in at least 55 House and Senate bills as well as language never publicly discussed or considered in committee. It even contains language that was previously defeated in a Senate committee.
After detailing specific criticisms, the letter offers support for Governor Scott’s proposal to increase K-12 spending by 3% and Scott’s view that the $419 million attached to the legislation should be invested in areas such as the environment and public schools.