The last time I talked to you about a Florida Amendment, I said we must say “no”. This time, I say we need need to vote “yes” on Amendment 8: Florida Class Size
In 2002, Florida voted for Florida Reduce Class Size, Amendment 9 which limited the class sizes that would take effect Fall 2010 (this school year). High school classes would be limited to 25 students; fourth through eighth grades to 22 students; and pre-kindergarten through third grade to 18 students. There was no flexibility and at the time, we were in the middle of an economic boom which we thought would last forever.
However forever has come to an end. Times are bad and we come face-to-face with the fact that money doesn’t grow on trees. We have to balance our budget here in Florida and according to The St. Petersburg Times:
“Florida TaxWatch has estimated the savings, and they are substantial: Up to $1 billion annually. That is a lot of money that could be better spent on real education reform, not just counting heads in the classroom. Amendment 8 won’t eliminate Florida’s smaller class sizes; it will just make the voter mandate far more manageable.”
Indeed, class sizes would still be small. However the new amendment “would allow school administrators more flexibility by allowing up to three additional students in pre-kindergarten to third-grade classrooms and an additional five students in grades four through 12. Gaetz said the amendment, which must be approved by a three-fifths vote of the Legislature to get on the November ballot, ‘keeps class sizes at a level where teachers can teach and children can learn.'”
It would also stop a hellish “school rezoning, double sessions and the elimination of elective classes, such as art or music, as schools try to shuffle students and teachers to meet the limits in each classroom.”
I still support small class sizes in school, but let’s give schools the flexibility they need in this terrible economic times. A hard cap at this time will only burden the schools and the children we need to educate.