Guidelines

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.








Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Yes on 8 Wins Majority of Votes, but Fails to Get 60%


Amendment 8, right size the class size, has failed to earn the required 60% to succeed in last night's election.  Unfortunately, we will be living with hard caps in our school district at the class level for the foreseeable future.

Many people worked dilligently to pass Amendment 8 statewide, and their efforts are very much appreciated--but the effort fell short of the required 60% by 5 percentage points.

An interesting point to note is that the original class size measure passed with only a 52% margin supporting the change.  Last night's election saw more folks vote to fix the class size than even orginally voted for hard caps in the first place.  That is fairly significant, and this fact shows that opinions continue to vary on the subject of class size.

Meanwhile-champagne corks are popping at union headquarters locally and nationally.  Keeping the class size hard caps will lead to the hiring of thousands of additional teachers statewide over the next few years to come-which in turn will lead to $millions more dollars in dues to the organized teachers unions.

Triangulating the "benefit" to student achievement will continue to be difficult; But hey,who cares, right?  The union has spoken and they like hard caps regardless of what studies show.  And while a majority voted to right size the class size-- not enough Florididans disagreed with the union to pass Amendment 8.

The silver lining?

With a large slate of fiscally conservative representatives (and most likely Governor) coming into office in Florida following last night's election--I doubt we have seen the last of the effort to intelligently modify the existing class size law.

But in the meantime, I will continue to stand firm in my expectation that our district must comply with the law, and I will continue to oppose the "lawsuit solution" to the issue which is being sold (like snake-oil form a wagon) to districts around the state by the Florida School Boards Association (FSBA).

I believe that suing the state (over penalizing districts that are out of compliance with the class-size mandate) is counterproductive and ill-conceived. 

Without the penalty provision, many districts that are willfully disobeying the law will essentially be rewarded, while districts like Escambia that have spent resources, time and energy coming into compliance will look like fools.

I'm not wild about collecting money from other districts that are out of compliance, but at this point that is how the legislature has structured the penalty money re-distribution--and I don't think we'll refuse to take the money "on principle"

We just have to do what is necessary to comply with this provision until the law is fixed, and I know that is not going to be easy....

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