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Scott Plakon, Please Stay After Class

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Following Scott Plakon's misleading, manufactured and desperate attacks on school teacher Karen Castor Dentel, the Florida Democratic Party today released Scott Plakon's Report Card on Education — and it looks like he's going to have to stay after school. Plakon earns an "F" for voting to cut the Bright Futures Scholarship, cutting $300 million from our university system forcing tuition to spike for students, and draining millions of dollars from our public schools causing cuts to vital programs like arts and athletics — while supporting a voucher scheme that sends our tax dollars to out of state corporations who want to profit off our children's education. The report card and some background on Plakon's failed education policies below. 

For the past several weeks, Republicans have been "under siege across Florida from Democrats"  who have been highlighting how the GOP's education policies are hurting our parents, teachers and students. FL Dems have been hammering the GOP for their support of a voucher scheme that drains millions of dollars from our public education system and sends our tax dollars to out of state corporations that want to profit off our children's education.  Recently state legislative candidates from across Florida joined with Sen. Bob Graham, FDP Chair Smith and students to condemn the GOP's cuts to higher education and last week parents and candidates joined with Former Education Commissioner Betty Castor to speak out on the GOP's failed K-12 Education Policies. 

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."

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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