Class-size on thin ice?
As we frequently reported during the legislative session, many education groups and a growing number of lawmakers want to see the expensive and inflexible class-size amendment scaled back.
The best they could get in the spring was a one-year implementation delay. The Senate just didn't want to go along with a more permanent House plan, and amendment supporters cried foul any attempt to "undermine" the will of the people.
With the economy in shambles, though, the Senate is looking more likely to bend than ever before, the Orlando Sentinel reports today. "During this time of historic revenue shortfall, we should look for every opportunity to provide school districts with flexibility in class size," Senate K-12 education chairman Don Gaetz, told the paper.
Gaetz is a long-time opponent of the measure, though, whose main problem with the House's spring proposal was that it might not endure court scrutiny. He wanted a more sweeping and permanent measure to go to voters.
In the meantime, the Sentinel reports that the amendment standard bearers, including U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, aren't budging much in their views. They maintain, as during the spring, that the class-size amendment is the will of the people.
"The economic issues the state and country are facing are real," Progress Florida political director Damien Filer, spokesman for the class-size campaign at the time, told the Sentinel. "By the same token, if the Legislature has spent half the energy trying to implement this instead of circumventing it, it would be implemented and funded now . . . "
Has the story really changed that much since the spring? Only in the sense that the Senate -- historically the place where class-size changes go to die -- might now use the fiscal crisis as a reason to move off the dime.
Expect a healthy debate on this as revenue continues to tumble and school districts keep looking for places to cut. Many, such as Pasco, already have frozen implementation of the amendment at the school level with few complaints. If it's not broken ...