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Florida Dems Speak Out on GOP's Failed Education Policies

As Governor Rick Scott travels around the state to hold secret, closed door meetings on education in an attempt to lift his sagging poll numbers, Florida Democrats are speaking out: blasting Scott and the GOP’s failed policies which have cut millions from the public schools that Florida’s middle class families rely on while continuing to give handouts to corporate special interests. Statements and background below. 


“This scandal clearly illustrates the financial recklessness and serious damage that occurs when we give out of state corporations and for-profit companies control over our children’s education. As a teacher, I know first hand the importance of supporting our public schools — both for the future of our children, and for the future economic growth of our state,” said Karen Castor Dentel, candidate for Florida House of Representatives.  “It’s sad that politicians like Rick Scott and Scott Plakon have chosen to gut this vital investment — draining millions of dollars from local public schools while handing out tax breaks to special interests. And while out of state corporations like those involved in this scandal have spent thousands of dollars defending my opponent, I pledge to be a stalwart and vocal champion of the local, public schools our children and families rely on.” 


“We need leaders who understand that investing in public education is an investment in our future,” said Josh Shulman, candidate for Florida House of Representatives. ” It’s time to end the one party Republican rule in Tallahassee. It’s time for fresh leadership and elected officials who will stand up to politicians who try increase class sizes; force teacher layoffs; or threaten to cut athletics, art and music in our schools.  That’s why I’ll fight to ensure Florida’s children get the high quality education they need and deserve.” 


“When Republicans like Rick Scott say they care about education — but gut the funding for schools causing thousands of teachers to be laid off — it’s hard to trust them with Florida’s future,” said Jose Javier Rodriguez, candidate for Florida House of Representatives. “It’s time for a change in Tallahassee if we’re going to fix our state’s broken priorities. Floridians want a leader who will fight to protect our children’s future, not steal money from our public schools to give tax breaks to well-connected special interests.” 


“My opponent doesn’t seem to understand that investing in our local schools isn’t just about our children’s future: it’s about the future of Florida’s economy,” said Frank Bruno, candidate for Florida Senate. “Floridians are tired of a broken Tallahassee which gives handouts to special interests, but guts the public schools that middle class families rely on. We need a leader who understands that to grow our economy for the future we need to keep our class sizes small, prevent teacher layoffs and fight against the extremists who want to drain public school classrooms and threaten a well-rounded education in our state.” 


“Every child deserves a fair shot at a bright future,” said Maria Sachs, candidate for Florida Senate. “Investing in public education is vital to a stronger Florida for our children and grandchildren. We’ve tried the Republican’s way – gutting education, laying off teachers, increasing class sizes  – and it hasn’t worked. It’s time for a new course.”


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]  

Republicans cut the “Bright Futures” Scholarship program. “Another measure would cut thousands of students from the Bright Futures scholarships.” [Miami Herald, 2/29/12

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

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 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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