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Betty Castor Joins Parents, Candidates to Speak Out on GOP's Failed K-12 Education Policies

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GOP's policies forcing teacher layoffs, class sizes to grow and cuts to programs like arts and athletics

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Former Education Commissioner and state Senator Betty Castor today joined with central Florida parents and legislative candidates Karen Castor Dentel, Linda Stewart and Joe Saunders to speak out on the GOP's failed K-12 education policies which are hurting our parents, teachers and students.  

The GOP has cut funding for public education for five consecutive years, appropriated 0 dollars for public school construction or repair and failed to restore funding to the same level following their historic cuts. And even worse, the Republican's Voucher Scheme has drained millions more from our schools, stripping parents of local control and sending our tax dollars to out-of-state corporations who want to profit off our children's education. The impact of the GOP's failed education policies has been disastrous: forcing teacher layoffs, class sizes to grow and cuts to vital programs like arts and athletics. 

"Education is the pathway to economic opportunity for middle class families, but the Republican's cuts to our public schools are hurting parents, teachers and students," said former Florida Education Commissioner Betty Castor. "Instead of investing in the public schools that Florida families rely on, the GOP has drained millions from our education system — cutting funding for years while sending our tax dollars to out of state corporations who want to profit off our children's education. We can't grow our economy and create the next generation of jobs by robbing our schools of the funding they need to be successful, and these failed Republican policies have shown that the GOP can't be trusted with our state's future." 

"As a teacher, I know first hand the challenges facing our public school system and unlike the Republicans in Tallahassee, I'll make our children's education a priority," said Karen Castor Dentel, candidate for Florida House. "Unfortunately, the GOP has drained millions of dollars from our local schools — forcing teacher layoffs, skyrocketing class sizes and cuts to vital programs like arts and athletics. And while they're cutting funding from our schools, they always seem to find tax dollars to hand out to the corporate special interests that control Tallahassee. Middle class families in central Florida deserve a leader who will stand up for the values we believe in and protect the schools we rely on so that we can grow our economy and give our children the tools they need to succeed." 

"Florida's parents and children are bearing the cost of the Republican's assault on our public school system," said Liz Herndon, a central Florida parent. "The GOP has drained millions of dollars from our schools, and our children are feeling the brunt of these cuts: dealing with larger and larger class sizes, less personal attention, and facilities that are literally crumbling around them. When I went to school, arts and athletics were a given, but now -- because of the GOP's cuts — these vital programs are disappearing. The Republican's failed education policies are simply wrong for our community, wrong for our schools and the wrong direction for our state." 

Please see attached photos from the event. 

BACKGROUND

For more information about the impact of the GOP's failed K-12 policies, please see this new memo released by the Florida Democratic Party, "Understanding the Impact of the GOP's Failed K-12 Education Policies." 

Republicans cut funding for public education for five consecutive years, including cutting $1.3 billion in 2011 alone. “The budget does not make up for five consecutive years of cuts to K-12 spending, including $1.3 billion in cuts Scott approved last year.” [Times Herald, 4/18/12

In 2012, Republicans failed to restore education funding to the same level following their historic cuts. “The boost from last year does not overcome past budget cuts — $1.3 billion statewide last year alone;” "Scott also brags in the ad that the state put $1 billion more into school funding this year, wholly ignoring the $1.3 billion in cuts to K-12 funding Scott approved the previous year." [Florida Times Union, 2/28/12; Tampa Bay Times,9/12/12

Republicans included 0 dollars for public school construction or repair. "Florida's schools, community colleges and state universities, which anticipate zero construction dollars, will be forced to stop or put off for years many dozens of new projects, including repairs to roofs and air-conditioners” [Sunshine State News, 3/3/2012]

Republican budget cuts are forcing schools to layoff teachers and cut programs like arts and athletics. "Critics said it doesn't cover the $1.3 billion cut they got last year…That has school officials contemplating layoffs and the elimination of such programs as arts and athletics" [AP, 4/17/12. See also: WSVN, 4/27/10; The Ledger, 2/20/11; Ocala Star Banner, 9/19/11; Orlando Sentinel, 5/17/11]  

Florida Republicans gave $55 million to for-profit Charter schools, while public schools got zero dollars. "School district officials across Florida are bemoaning the Legislature's decision to cut traditional public schools out of PECO — the Public Education Capital Outlay program. The state's 350 charter schools will share $55 million, while the approximately 3,000 traditional schools will go without." [Orlando Sentinel, 7/25/11

Unlike public schools which are focused on teaching, out of state corporations are focused on profiting off our children's education.  "K12 is an $864 million publicly traded company whose stock price has more than doubled in the last year. In recent years, K12 has increased profits while student performance has suffered, raising questions about whether the for-profit virtual schools provider is making money at the expense of academics. A July 2012 study by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado found that students at K12 schools fell further behind in reading and math scores than pupils in traditional schools. [FCIR, 9/11/12

Republicans like Rick Scott said education would be a priority. “I’d like to focus on what I believe are the three most important jobs I have… two, securing the right of every Floridian to a quality education” [Gov. Scott’s “State of the State,” 1/9/2012

But Republicans puts corporate special interests over middle class families. “The proposed 2012-13 budget…is a study in pork-barrel spending, reckless policy and a shortchanged future.” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/2012]

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