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Class Size Standards Under Fire

April 14th, 2009 by flanews

The father of the state’s class size amendment is fighting legislation to weaken the standards. Congressman and US Senate hopeful Kendrick Meek is meeting with state lawmakers in Tallahassee. As Whitney Ray tells us, Meek says lawmakers are using the economy as an excuse to change the state constitution.

Since class size restrictions took effect in 2003, middle school teacher Vivian Garner says her students are learning more.

“They are much more content. Their attitudes, they’re more involved. They feel like they are getting much more attention from their teachers,” said Garner.

Right now schools can meet the requirements using averages. By 2010, classes will be measured individually. Under Representative Will Weatherford’s proposal classes could get larger.

“All my bill does is give a little bit of flexibility and it saves the state money,” said Weatherford.

Congressman Kendrick Meek championed the class sized amendment in 2002. Meek say the economy isn’t a good enough reason to change the requirements.

“I just want to make sure the economy is not an excuse of why they have to roll it back now,” said Meek.

Class size standards could get easier to meet because Florida’s student population is on a downward spiral.

Early estimates show Florida’s student population will decrease by about 10-thousand next school year. The exodus could improve the student to teacher ratio, that is if budget cuts don’t force more layoffs.

If the legislation to limit the class size restrictions passes, voters would have to approve the deal in the 2010 election. If that happens, Meek could get more recognition in the US Senate race by battling against the changes.

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