The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) urges Florida legislators to reject the repeal of the Florida Class Size Reduction Constitutional Amendment. Florida Governor Jeb Bush has proposed a resolution that would repeal the amendment and implement changes that could spell trouble for Florida's public schools.
NAACP Interim President and CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes said, "A great opportunity for positive change is within the grasp of Florida's education system. Sadly, Governor Bush has resorted to old political tricks, dodging his duty to show leadership by instead offering school children only a wedge issue to take home to their parents."
The Class Size Reduction Amendment passed in November 2002 regulated the maximum number of students assigned to a teacher per classroom. Significant studies show that class sizes between 15-19 students per teacher have resulted in stronger academic performance. The amendment called for a maximum of 18 students per teacher for pre-kindergarten through grade 3, a maximum of 22 students per teacher for grades 4 through 8, and a maximum of 25 students per teacher for grades 9 through 12.
The amendment was strongly supported by Floridians with a 52% approval rating. An overwhelming majority of Florida voters have already shown opposition to the repeal and indicated that education is where legislators should focus their efforts.
The Governor's resolution calls for major changes to the Class Size Reduction Amendment. Instead of a classroom requirement, he is seeking to implement a district maximum average that would require that only the district average number of students assigned to a teacher be regulated. In addition, the resolution would set the minimum salary requirement for public school teachers at $35,000 a year. Bush is seeking to hold a Special Election on September 6, 2005 in which he would need to garner 75% of each house of the Legislature in order to enact these changes.
"The Governor's proposal is misleading, because it would result in maintaining Florida's overcrowded classrooms and create problems for teachers and students that will not be concealed by the hollow promise of salary increases. There is no trade-off when it comes to our children's education," stated Dr. John H. Jackson, NAACP National Director of Education.
The National NAACP is joining forces with the Florida State Conference NAACP and local, state and national organizations to launch a nationwide movement to prevent the repeal of the Florida Class Size Reduction Constitutional Amendment. On Thursday, April 14, 2005 the Florida State Conference NAACP and NAACP National Education Department will host a meeting of coalition partners at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Fla. The partners will outline action steps to address the Governor's repeal efforts.
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