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FL Dems Statement on Gov. Scott and the GOP's Failed Education Record

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TALLAHASSEE, FL — Following Governor Rick Scott's release of his education "plan" this morning, the Florida Democratic Party issued the following statement: 

STATEMENT FROM FDP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SCOTT ARCENEAUX

"After watching Governor Rick Scott walk back his jobs plan, and watching Scott and the Republican Legislature lead an assault on Florida's school system, it is frankly impossible for middle class families to trust them with the future of our children's education. Scott and the GOP have drained millions of dollars from our local public school systems, sending our tax dollars to out of state corporations who want to profit off our children's education while stripping parents of local control of their children's schools and forcing cuts to vital programs like arts and athletics. While the Legislature and Scott have found millions of our tax dollars for hand outs to Tallahassee special interests, they have cut billions from Florida's universities and colleges: causing tuition to spike for students while cutting Bright Futures scholarships for middle class families. While we hope that Scott's plan — introduced just 12 days before the election — is sincere, it does not erase the Republican's long record of hurting our parents, teachers and students." 

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; SB 2000, Vote [Seq# 628], 5/7/2011] 

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; HB 5001, Vote [Seq #1206], 3/9/2012] 

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

In 2012, Republicans cut $300 million for higher education and universities. “The House and Senate have agreed to cut universities by $300 million” [Palm Beach Post ,3/1/2012]

Republicans forced students to face tuition increases. “Students still could face double-digit tuition increases while schools will spend less to educate them” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/2012]; “’We are being put in a position of having no choice but to raise tuition,’ Ramil said” [WUSF, 3/1/2012]

UCF Trustees made clear that state budget cuts to higher education were prompting tuition increases.  “UCF trustees reluctantly approved tuition increases in May while making it clear that they are concerned about repeated state budget cuts to higher education” [UCF Board of Governors,6/21/12]

At Gulf Coast University, "Students sign petition protesting education cuts." Florida Gulf  Coast University students say they are fed up with the years of state funding cuts to education and they are taking action. Students have started a petition denouncing the $3.6 million in cuts. Students this school year will spend less time inside Florida Gulf Coast University's library, and not because they choose to. The university says it can no longer afford to keep the campus building open late at night or on Saturday…'The state really needs to invest more, not less in higher education and make that affordable    and have access for more, not fewer students,' said Bradshaw. [ABC 7, 9/20/12

All public Florida universities will see tuition increases between 9% and 15%. The hikes come as Florida’s public universities are hit by $300-million dollars in state funding cuts [ABC, 6/21/12

In 2012, Republican's budget raised tuition on college students by 5-percent. “It includes a 5 percent tuition increase for Florida college students” [Gainesville Sun, 3/5/12

Republicans in Tallahassee cut the “Bright Futures” Scholarship program. “Another measure would cut thousands of students from the Bright Futures scholarships;” "Starting this year, recipients will only receive a certain amount of money per credit hour, and most of their fees won’t be covered. It’s a much smaller award than students received during the first decade of the program." [Miami Herald, 2/29/12; NPR's StateImpact, 8/20/12

GOP funding cuts to the Bright Futures program are raising the cost of higher education for students. "The Florida Lottery's contribution to Bright Futures has declined by $41 million in transferred funds to the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program, according to Florida Department of Education officials. Deborah Higgins, Bright Futures information specialist with the Florida Department of Education, said funds have decreased because the Florida Legislature appropriated less funding for the program this year…'The award per credit hour to be funded was reduced, therefore eligible students will receive a lesser award per their enrollment,' said Higgins about the effects of funding cuts on the Florida Bright Futures program and on Florida students. [The FAMUAN, 10/16/12

Naples Daily News: The GOP's cuts to Bright Futures are "squeezing college students as tuition increases." "The decreasing coverage provided by Bright Futures means the more than 120,000 Florida students who receive funding from it are making up the difference. And with tuition becoming more and more expensive, some are feeling strained…For Brad Corfias, the lowered amount meant taking fewer courses per semester — and staying in college longer." 

Florida students are speaking out about the GOP's assault on higher education. "Across the state, Florida Democrats are speaking out: blasting the Republicans for their support of charters, vouchers and virtual school schemes. These  reckless policies drain millions from our local public schools, takes local control away from parents and teachers, and gives our tax dollars to out of state corporations who want to profit off our children's education. Statements and background below." [FL Dems, 9/28/12

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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