Gov. Rick Scott might as well accept the facts of life: He can’t buy respect from the left.
In a nod to political correctness, he decided to throw a billion dollars at education next year.
But if he thought that was going to get him kudos, he was dead wrong. All it got was jeers from the left.
If it had been $5 billion, I suspect the reaction would be the same.
I don’t know what it is about liberals, public schools and money. Despite the lack of proof that spending more money results in a better education for children, they insist on constantly increasing funds.
To their credit, people who call themselves public school advocates have done a good job of perpetuating the myth that the schools are in dire straits.
But I’m a public school student advocate. I don’t care whether public schools “succeed,” I want kids to succeed.
I would suggest that parents who have bought into the idea that the schools are suffering financially ignore the politicians, bureaucrats and media and find out the facts for themselves. School districts are required to post their financial information on the Internet.
When I looked at Jacksonville, I found that -- despite no increase in the number of students over the 10-year period from 2002 through 2011 -- school spending increased every year and by 30 percent overall, as I reported previously.
The district claims that it cut spending over the past four years. But the alleged “cut” was a mere $150 million out of more than $4 billion in spending.
It was accomplished by cutting things that affect students. If things get real tough, they plan to – maybe – do something that would affect teachers.
Why should students suffer first?
There have been improvements in learning since reforms began in 1999 and reform efforts continue. Pending in the Legislature is a “parent trigger” bill that would let parents have more voice in what happens when schools don’t perform.
One little-noticed provision of the bill arguably is more important than the parent trigger. This provision, copied from an Indiana law, says that if your child is assigned to a teacher with a low rating, the child must be assigned to a better teacher the following year. That, at least, guarantees a child an effective teacher every other year.
Under current law, a child could go through 13 years of school in classes taught by teachers who are not rated effective.
We need to get away from the fixation on money and focus on reforms that help kids get educated, such as paying effective teachers more money.
In addition, liberals need to show a little compassion for poor children trapped in failing schools. Allow them the same chance wealthier students have to go to a better school where they can get an education and have a chance in life.
Saving our kids is more important than “saving our schools.”
Lloyd Brown wasin the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.
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