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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Despite objections from the tea party, Gov. Rick Scott says Florida will pursue money from Obama's Race to the Top program



Keep reading for Scott's statement and the press release earlier from the Tea Party Network

And click here for more background from our friends at The Gradebook blog.

Statement from Governor Rick Scott Regarding Race to the Top

Tallahassee, Fla. – “Florida’s decision to compete in the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge is anchored on the bedrock conservative principles of smaller government and local solutions.  This application will target at-risk children by offering support and training to existing private sector providers through block grants at the state-level, not by creating new government programs, to ensure every Floridian has a chance to receive a quality education.

“The grant application designed by the Office of Early Leaning is the product of extensive consultation with private providers to find creative solutions that address a true need of those Florida children that have fallen through the cracks.  The key condition for Florida’s participation in the Race to the Top Program is our commitment to ensuring that no federal strings are attached to any grants awarded and that no new burdensome regulations will be placed on private providers.

“The Office of Early Learning, together with my own staff, worked hard to structure a Race to the Top application that requires no additional state spending obligations—current or future, no requirements for future legislative action, and no new government programs that unduly burden state taxpayers and commit state dollars to federal unfunded mandates.

“To be clear, Florida will only accept these grant dollars if the award comes back with no strings attached.  Additionally, if during the process of implementing this grant, the state finds unexpected new regulations being placed on private businesses, I pledge that Florida will not move forward with implementation.

“Additionally, any provider receiving funds will be asked to acknowledge that these grant funds are temporary and are not intended to build programs that will require additional state spending when the grant dollars are gone.  I am also committed to working with the Legislature to hold Florida’s Early Learning Coalitions accountable for spending these dollars wisely.

“Florida’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge application is consistent with my vision for a world-class education system in the Sunshine State and meets our goal of ensuring the every Floridian has an equal opportunity to gain a quality education.  It is my sincere belief that focusing on these at-risk children will save the citizens of the State of Florida from the economic and social costs that come from long-term dependence on welfare programs that are funded with their tax dollars.”

# # #
The Tea Party Network Asks Governor Scott to “Just Say No” to the Federal Race to the Top Grant

Florida, October 18, 2011 –The Tea Party Network (TTPN) wants the Governor to pass on “The Race to the Top” Grant money.

“This grant not only cost Florida taxpayers more in the long term, it will remove quality control away from the legislative process, and it goes against the Florida State Constitution” said TTPN Chair, Patricia Sullivan. “For States to regain control of education and bring it back to the local level, they must stop taking federal money and the strings that come with the money.”

The following letter from the TTPN Education Leadership Team was delivered to Mr. Rex Newman, Officer of Citizen Services on Tuesday, October, requesting Governor Scott not apply for the Federal Race to the Top Education Grant.

Dear Governor Rick Scott,

We appreciate the work you are doing for the citizens of Florida and hope you will give the following request your strongest support. Do not apply for the Race to the Top grant. The money might look attractive now, but it will result in costing us more in the long term. The grant will require the private child-care and Pre-K facilities to comply with the Quality Rating Improvement System, a system that has not been proven to work, and is not self-sustaining.

Rather, it will drive up the cost of child-care and Pre-K, forcing many private establishments to close, thus reducing availability for all Florida families. With the new standards in place, and the private facilities terminated, the state will then be compelled to fill the higher-priced void, all on the backs of the taxpayers. No less significantly, it will allow a regulatory agency to have control over family child- care, nannies, etc. with the power to circumvent the legislative process and therefore have no oversight.

Let the private facilities continue to provide the quality of child-care and education parents desire without burdening them with undue regulation and cost. Look past the shiny dollar signs and into the more costly future of Florida. Again, please do not apply for the Race to the Top grant. The issues are:

1) It will mean government increasing in size.

2) It will mean getting stuck with a bill we can’t afford.

3) It will mean an agency headed by the Early Learning Coalition can control private (school) businesses through the QRIS and citizens will not be able to appeal to the legislature to stop the regulations.

4) It will mean private businesses will close because they cannot make a profit after they try to implement the regulations.

5) It will go against our State Constitution: SECTION 4. School Districts; School Boards The school board shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district and determine the rate of school district taxes within the limits prescribed herein. Two or more school districts may operate and finance joint educational programs.

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 2:40pm]


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