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Gradebook

Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Weatherford files bill to have voters reconsider class-size amendment

17

February

Weatherford It comes as no surprise, but here's the news: Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has filed a resolution that would have Florida voters reconsider the class-size amendment.

Simply put, Weatherford's proposal, which would require support in the House and Senate, would stop the state's class-size reduction effort at the school average. It also would set a cap for student enrollment per classroom slightly above the average.

Under the amendment as approved in 2002, schools otherwise would have to start counting students in every core-curriculum classroom for the 2010-11 school year.

Weatherford is among many lawmakers who argue that the state simply can't afford that next step.

In a recent interview with the Gradebook, Weatherford explained that the constitution is "supposed to be a guideline and a framework. If there ever is supposed to be a class-by-class count, it should be in statute, not in the constitution."

He said the House has the votes to pass this measure and expected the Florida Education Association to be the primary stumbling block to smooth sailing. When asked whether his idea subverts the will of the people, he answered: "The voters wanted a bullet train, too, until they found out how much it cost. ... Give them another crack at" the class-size amendment.

Don't expect this issue to move through Tallahassee without a fight. Even before the bill got filed, Rep. Marty Kiar, the Democrats' education point man in the House, was predicting the proposal and criticizing it.

"I think it would be a slap in the face to the voters to send it back and ask them again, 'Are you sure you want this?' " Kiar told the Gradebook recently. "I believe the voters of the state of Florida are very smart, and they know what they voted for."

If the House and Senate approve the resolution, 60 percent of voters would have to agree. Even some of the idea's strongest supporters have expressed concerns that getting such support will prove difficult. Stay tuned.

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[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:15am]

    

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