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Proposed Constitutional Amendment Could Set Up a Competing Education System in Florida

April 18th, 2018 by Jake Stofan
Education advocates are speaking out against a proposed constitutional amendment passed by the Constitution Revision Commission Monday.
Here in the state capital there’s an ongoing debate between school board members, over whether to allow two new charter schools to move in.
“We don’t believe there’s a need. We believe it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars,” said Leon County School Superintendent Rocky Hanna.
If the proposed constitutional amendment passes that decision could be put in the hands of a state agency, not local elected officials.
Hanna says the proposal is hidden in the amendment, which also includes requiring civics education and an 8-year term limit on school board members.
“Oh by the way we’re also looking to take away local control these charter decisions at the state level as opposed to the local school level,” said Hanna.
The amendment would authorize the creation of a state entity that could authorize the creation of new schools. It would operate separate from the current school districts.
“Well the question then of course of concern is if you have two systems how do we know that each will be funded equitably,” said State Senator and head of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents Bill Montford.
The existing public education system would have to share state funding with the new one, possibly thinning out an already tight budget.
“We’re going to have to start looking at eliminating programs, especially those in art, music, science, mental health counselors and all the things we need to provide for the good of the whole,” said Hanna.
Because the change would be in the constitution, it would be difficult to undo.
“They’re trying to amend the constitution to defund and have for the next 20 years a policy that will gut our public school systems,” said Fredrick Ingram, Vice President of the Florida Education Association.
Some members of the Constitution revision commission tried to unbundle the proposals, but it failed.
The amendment will need 60% voter approval come November to pass.

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