All talk, no do
It was just a month ago that Gov. Charlie Crist came out in support of requiring all state prekindergarten teachers to have bachelor's degrees. Early education advocates cheered his stance, saying top-notch teachers are the key to a high-quality program. But the bills that would set the goal in law are not moving. At all. And Crist has no intention of spending any political capital to make it happen. "He's not going to push for anything further," Kathy Torian, a spokeswoman for the governor, told the Gradebook. "He thinks making the goal mandatory is certainly the first step toward achieving it. (But) he's just going to wait and watch."
Rep. Lorrane Ausley, the Tallahassee Democrat who's arguably the most passionate early ed supporter in the House, doesn't blame Crist for the inaction. "He came in when the budgets were set," she said, adding that the governor's action next year will be more telling. Ausley instead focused her attention on House and Senate leaders who have shown no interest in either the teacher certification issue or in a proposal to create a star-rating system for all pre-k programs. "Here we are spending millions of dollars on sports stadiums," she said. "As a state, we are moving in the very wrong direction." Ausley held out hope that an upcoming OPPAGA review of pre-k governance might provide the impetus to bring changes to the two-year-old voter-mandated program in the future.