Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Senate should reject House’s attack on public schools

After pummeling public education so soundly last year, it’s little surprise Republican state legislators are mounting another attack on public schools, teachers and local districts. The mammoth education bill passed by the House last week is loaded with unacceptable policy changes that further grease the skids for private and charter schools, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran gamed the normal process by tying it all to school funding. The Senate, which has shown some spine in resisting Corcoran’s tactics, should take apart this mess, keep the positive changes and throw the rest out.

The education legislation, HB 7055, covers nearly 200 pages and touches numerous policy areas such as expanding vouchers, undercutting unions and directing school capital funding. Those are disparate issues that should be considered individually. But that’s not the strategy, and the House passed a bloated bill that would:

• Create a new voucher-like program for students who are bullied in public schools. "Hope Scholarships" would provide $750 to pay for busing to another public school, or a scholarship of about $7,000 to help offset tuition at a private school. But public schools are required by law to have detailed policies for dealing with bullying, investigating incidents, referring victims and perpetrators for follow-up services and informing parents. Private schools are not. Further, it makes no sense to deal with bullying by moving victims while allowing bullies to stay where they are. Yet this is a top priority for Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, who has yet to find a bill that sends more kids to private schools on the taxpayers’ dime that he would oppose.

• Set new membership requirements for teachers’ unions. The bill specifically exempts other public employee unions from requiring majority participation for the union to be certified. It’s bad politics to declare war on police officers and firefighters, but public school teachers are a favorite target in Tallahassee. The Senate should reject this provision.

• Allow third-graders who fail the state reading test to access a tax credit scholarship. Like the Hope Scholarship, this is just another attempt to expand Florida’s voucher-like system and sap more resources from the public school system.

• Establish ill-defined autonomous schools that would be governed by individual boards and operate outside the authority of elected county school boards. There is no need to create another avenue for subverting local control.

• Provide millions in state funding for charter school construction.

JOHN ROMANO: Does anyone have the guts to say no to the state bully?

The bill, of course, contains a few more palatable provisions. It adds accountability measures to some private schools that receive state vouchers, which advocates have long sought. It also reverts all math and language arts state tests for grades 3 through 8 to paper tests, which many parents have long supported. But the bad outweighs the good by a long shot.

After the House passed the bill Thursday on a party-line vote, the Senate smartly maneuvered to slow it down and give it more scrutiny. Less than four weeks remain in the legislative session, and the pressure will only increase to push through high-priority legislation such as HB 7055. The Senate should stand firm for public schools in Florida and strip the most extreme provisions out of this legislation that seeks to further undermine teachers and public education.

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Tuesday’s letters: Amendment 4 is a matter of reason

Amendment 4 will save taxpayers money | Column, Sept. 23 Amendment 4 is a matter of reason My lifelong Republican brother is a moderate, more mainstream thinker, not wedded to extreme right-wing orthodoxy, so I asked him how he plans to vote on Ame...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: DeSantis, Scott send mixed messages on oil drilling

Editorial: DeSantis, Scott send mixed messages on oil drilling

Every candidate for federal and state office in Florida should be unequivocal in opposing oil drilling off the coast and crystal clear in supporting a permanent extension to the federal ban on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. But the Republica...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18