If Republican legislative leaders won't listen to parents and teachers who anguish over the way budget cuts are hurting Florida schoolchildren, maybe they will at least hear Roberto Martinez.
Martinez, a former U.S. attorney who was appointed to the state Board of Education by Gov. Jeb Bush, knows all about fiscal conservatism and the desire to keep government as small as possible. But he also knows that cuts can go too far and that students pay the price.
Martinez recently took the opportunity to be heard as his board proposed a $1-billion increase in K-12 funding next year:
"I agree that there's more to education policy than just throwing money at the problem. But in our state we've been doing good at a lot of things besides throwing money at the problem. … The public school system is doing as much as it can with as little as possible. I think it's very important that … the Legislature … appropriate as much money as is required to make sure that education is adequately funded."
Martinez is also a parent, and he described his own child's school to the Miami Herald: "They don't have afterschool activities. They don't have clubs. The lady in charge of psychological services, that position has been eliminated. Now, as of a month ago, we weren't sure if we had hot lunches."
When will lawmakers listen?