Vote NO on 8 kicks off in Miami
As if anybody thought otherwise, efforts by the Florida Legislature to tweak the 2002 class-size amendment won't go down without a fight. Here's a press release issued after a Vote NO on 8 campaign was launched in Miami this morning:
Parents and educators today announced the kick-off of a campaign to keep the
smaller class sizes voters approved in 2002 and stop the Florida Legislature from increasing class
size. The Vote NO on 8 Campaign will fight for the defeat of Amendment 8, which is on the
November 2, 2010 general election ballot. The amendment, if enacted, will allow the Florida
Legislature to cut State funding for smaller class size. School districts would no longer be
required to meet the current class size goals voters adopted.
As chairman of Vote NO on 8, longtime public education champion, Miami Sen. Alex Villalobos, will lead the fight to keep state funding of small class sizes. “I have seen first
hand the overcrowded schools in my Senate district and throughout the state,” Villalobos stated,
“and I firmly believe that we should not back away from the commitments we have made to
smaller classes. Defeat of Amendment 8 will be a victory for the school children of Florida.”
UTD president Karen Aronowitz said, “The deceptive language proposed in Amendment
8 puts our children in larger classes without ever fully implementing the Class Size Amendment,
takes money away from our schools, and threatens to punish our district. Floridians are not fools
and we are not fooled by the consistent push to overturn the will of the people.”
Aronowitz continued, “The Class Size Amendment is for real students in real schools.
I’m asking each and every citizen of Miami-Dade County to call their state senator and
representative and tell them you voted for smaller class sizes for the children of Miami-Dade.
Tell them that you don’t want a trick or a scheme — you want the Class Size Amendment as you
voted for it. Florida's legislators need to stop the games.”
The Constitution currently requires the state to make “adequate provision” to provide
funding to school districts so that the class size goals of no more than 18 children in Pre-K-3
classes, 22 students in grades 4-8, and 25 students in grades 9-12 can be met. If Amendment 8
were to be approved by 60 percent of the electorate, class sizes of up to 21 students in Pre-K-3 classes,
27 students in grades 4-8, and 30 students in grades 9-12 would be permitted as long as the
average number of students assigned school wide remains the same as it is presently.
“The learning gains our students have made with smaller class sizes should not be
ignored. Passage of Amendment 8 will be a retreat from real progress in our schools and a
retreat from our commitment to the voters,” said Villalobos.
Amendment 8 is already being challenged in the courts due to the failure of the ballot title
and summary to describe in “clear and unambiguous” language the primary effects passage of
the amendment will have.
“A voter at the polls will not be alerted to the fact that the amendment’s passage will
result in reduced funding from the state,” stated Ron Meyer, the attorney representing the
Florida Education Association (FEA) and Miami-Dade teacher Lynette Estrada, who initiated the
lawsuit. If the courts agree that the ballot title and summary are misleading, votes for
Amendment 8 won’t be tallied. However, until a court rules the amendment is flawed, the public
needs to be prepared to vote “no” on Amendment 8 to ensure that the smaller classes, which have
been funded since 2002 when the Class Size Amendment was first enacted, are not lost.
Vote NO on 8 is a grassroots campaign spearheaded by the Florida Education
Association (FEA) to mobilize parents, teachers and community leaders to educate voters to the
true consequences of Amendment 8, which is reduced state funding of public schools and
increased class size. The FEA represents 140,000 teachers and education professionals. A new
website on Amendment 8, www.NOon8FL.org, will debut this afternoon.