Florida PTA ready to rally against amendments
About 1,000 Florida PTA members will arrive in Palm Harbor on Friday for the group's annual weekend leadership conference. Their first order of business is to rail against Amendments 5, 7 and 9, three measures appearing on the November ballot that have proven hugely unpopular in the state's education ranks.
Amendment 5 would change the way Florida funds public education, relying on sales taxes instead of property taxes. "We're going to lose a lot of money for education, and we have no assurances that it will be replaced," Mary White, a Pinellas representative to the Florida PTA legislation committee, told the Gradebook. "It's absurd."
Amendment 7 proposes to allow public funding to support programs run by private, religious institutions. "All they're trying to do with that one is get around the Supreme Court decision that said 'no vouchers,'" White said, echoing a common complaint with this recommendation by the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission.
Amendment 9 pairs the ideas of requiring schools to spend 65 percent of their operating budgets in the classroom with permitting the state to offer private school vouchers. Many education related groups and experts have called the referendum misleading. White argued that most Florida districts already meet the 65 percent level, which has not been proven to correlate to higher achievement anyway. "This is their way of letting people think they are doing something better for education when in fact it is just another voucher bill," White argued.
Joining the PTA at the 5:30 p.m. rally at Innisbrook Resort will be state Rep. Dan Gelber, FSBA executive director Wayne Blanton and lawyer Ron Meyer, who successfully fought the state's voucher law in court.
"Florida PTA will be heard loudly with our collective 360,000 voices and our feet will be put to the ground to successfully defeat these bad amendments at the polls," group president Lenelle Cruse of Jacksonville said in a news release.