Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislators Want to Run All of State's Schools

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislators Want to Run All of State's Schools

Article excerpt

Byline: Ronald L. Littlepage

Spring in Florida is always a dangerous time as the Legislature prepares to meet.

It's doubly scary during an election year. All sorts of mischief abounds.

For just one example, look at the plethora of bills that have been introduced that would dictate how local school districts run their schools.

By one count, there have been 237 such bills proposed so far and that type of micromanaging by legislators, most of whom know squat about education, had Duval County School Board members and Superintendent Joseph Wise fuming during a workshop last week.

Board member Tommy Hazouri, a veteran of the Legislature himself, wondered aloud if the Legislature was going to do anything during this session except stick its nose into the school districts' business.

Of course, his words were more polite than that.

One particular proposal -- to separate students by gender -- triggered the ire of Wise.

"They know not of what they speak," Wise said, noting there's no proof that separating students by gender is educationally sound. "They ought to be chastised."

Some of the bills are good ideas. Others are ridiculous.

One would "prohibit persons from exposing below-waist underwear."

Another would require that school districts teach Spanish to all students in kindergarten through the second grade. Of course, there's no money to hire the teachers, even if enough Spanish teachers could be found.

Then there are the election-year, apple-pie bills such as one requiring students to say the Pledge of Allegiance each school day and that they do so with respect. Another would require that Veterans Day be a school holiday. Another would push "inspirational messages" at school events.

Many of these bills won't see the light of day, but there is one in particular you need to pay attention to.

Gov. Jeb Bush and his gang are determined to do away with the voter-approved class-size amendment to the state constitution.

To their dismay, poll after poll show the amendment is popular, but now they think they have found a way to bamboozle the voters. …

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