Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Parents Call on Delegation State PTAs Lobby at Special Session

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Parents Call on Delegation State PTAs Lobby at Special Session

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- You could call them "mom lobbyists."

Instead of seeing their kids off to school yesterday, a

handful of Jacksonville mothers went on a mission of grassroots

lobbying:

They walked the maze-like halls of the state Capitol

buildings and met with Duval County lawmakers and their aides.

The four mothers and a grandmother, all members of Duval

County PTAs, wanted to send a reminder to legislators on the

first day of the special session on education: the lives of

Jacksonville children are at stake.

"It's real easy to look at the numbers and forget it's about

children," said Duval County PTA President Vicki Drake. "If you

haven't had children eating lunch at 10 a.m. because of

overcrowding, you don't really know what it's like."

The mothers spent the day telling their personal stories to

area legislators and their aides, and handing over letters and

cards written by other Duval County parents.

At 8:30 a.m., they were talking to Sen. Jim Horne, R-Orange

Park, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means education

subcommittee, as Horne finished his breakfast coffee and pastry.

"We're going to send money to Duval County," Horne reassured

them. "If they [other legislators] would just take my plan,

we're going to do it."

Drake spoke about Jacksonville needs before a House committee

on education funding, then caught up with Rep. John Thrasher,

R-Orange Park, who's in line to be the next House speaker.

Thrasher explained his committee had agreed to a bill that

could, eventually, send $14 million to Duval County for

maintenance. Drake wanted more.

"$14 million? We've got a middle school [Northwestern] that

could swallow that without a hiccup," she said later.

The manner of the day was nice but firm.

Florida PTA members passed out Nestle Crunch candy bars

topped with stickers saying "End the Classroom Crunch."

Mandarin PTA parent Merrie Smith politely handed several

parents' letters to the secretary for Rep. …

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