Alex De La Portilla “Would Leave Miami Schools With Nothing”
Tallahassee, FL — On the heels of a new state report showing that “Miami-Dade has the most low performing schools” in the state following years of Republican budget cuts to K-12 funding, the Florida Democratic Party today released a new mailer, highlighting how state representative Alex De La Portilla has voted to cut millions of dollars from Florida’s university system while draining millions more from our local public schools — putting the interest of lobbyists and Tallahassee special interests ahead of the Florida’s middle class families. The mailer will arrive at homes in the Miami Dade area starting this week.
“Florida Republicans like Alex De La Portilla have drained millions of dollars from our public schools — causing teachers to be laid off, class sizes to grow, and cuts to important programs like arts and athletics,” said Brannon Jordan, Spokeswoman for the Florida Democratic Party. “And even worse, they’ve robbed funding from our schools while continuing to waste our tax dollars on themselves and handouts to corporate special interests. Investing in our education system is the key to growing our economy and our schools are the pathways to economic opportunity for middle class families — but politicians like De La Portilla have shown time and again that Republicans in Tallahassee have the wrong priorities and are hurting our teachers, students and parents.”
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 — and last week 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 which is causing tuition to spike for middle class families.
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]