I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Vote Yes on Amendment 8—Save $Billions!

As we approach Election Day in November, Amendment 8 will become a lightning rod that polarizes the education community statewide. Passage of Amendment 8 is the most pressing priority in Florida Education today—supported by the vast majority of policymakers, superintendents, School Boards, and all of the major party gubernatorial candidates up for election (Including Democrat Alex Sink). Amendment 8, if passed, will save Florida taxpayers $Billions of dollars and will put the needs of students, parents, and taxpayers first—ahead of entrenched special interests!

Passage of Amendment 8 will be vigorously opposed by The Organized Teacher’s Union at the state and national level, though. Make no mistake about it-the stakes are high and the battle lines are being drawn. Once the union’s lawsuit seeking to strike Amendment 8 from the ballot is defeated in court, they’ll move on to a deft marketing campaign. The union will dump big money into an impressive “no on 8 Campaign.” The union wants “hard caps” on individual class size counts; they want districts squeezed and given zero flexibility. The union wants school districts statewide to be forced to hire more teachers than our state budget can afford because more teachers equal more dues paying members for the NEA and their Florida branch the FEA. More dues equals more power via the political activities payouts the union makes, 85% of which go to Democratic candidates with liberal agendas. It’s sad but it’s all about power, influence, and money.

Recession? What Recession? Just keep the taxpayers’ money flowing will be the attitude of the statewide teacher’s union as they fight tooth and nail to defeat Amendment 8. Forget about the worst real estate market in decades, forget about unemployment nearing 12 % locally, Forget about families losing houses, Forget about businesses going under, and forget the fact that we’re printing borrowed money from China that our kids and grandkids will be paying on for their entire lifetime. Forget the $16 Billion the State has already spent dramatically reducing class sizes statewide over the last 6 years. Most importantly-forget the fact that credible evidence showing a direct correlation between significantly higher student achievement and small class sizes is nonexistent. None of this matters to the “what have you done for me lately?” union, they feel it is fine to short other pressing state budget needs as long as they get all of “theirs”! Nothing matters to this intransigent union -except separating taxpayers from more of their hard-earned money.

A majority of teachers in Escambia County are not members of this union. Many teachers that ARE members simply want the sense of “protection” union membership offers in case a discipline or major student misconduct issue ever comes up. I can sympathize with that position. I have great admiration and the ultimate respect for individual, hard working teachers, but as for the organized union that represents them—not so much.

Amendment 8 is the antidote to the selfish, myopic entitlement mentality that pervades this union at the state and national level. Vote YES on 8 and tell the union they get to join the rest of us in this double-dip recession-they don’t get to sit this one out.

Voters had the best of intentions when they passed the Class Size Amendment with 52 % of the vote in 2002. The economy was red-hot and nobody then knew the financial meltdown of our times was coming in 2008. But Times have changed. We MUST get class size flexibility at the ballot box come November. Vote Yes on 8 to Save Billions!

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