Education is the foundation of an economy.
Florida’s Constitution mandates that all children in Florida are entitled access to a uniform and high quality free public education system.
Unfortunately, there has been a trend, both nationally and in Florida, to take resources from public education and divert it to for-profit private and charter schools. Since the Florida legislature has consistently underfunded our public education system (Florida spends roughly 80% of the national average on public education) each such diversion of public education dollars harms the children of our state.
In several cases, promises have been made and broken. For example, Florida voters agreed to adopt a lottery so long as the monies raised would be used to supplement other funds appropriated by the legislature to support public education. However, these lottery proceeds were used to replace funds that would have been otherwise appropriated. Total dollars spent have not kept up.
Another, example is the Bright Futures program for high achieving Florida students who attend public colleges and universities in Florida. Due to inflation, among other things, the amounts available to students has not kept up.
I believe that all Florida schools should be great schools. No parent should worry that the school that they choose for their children to attend, public or private, is nothing other than the best it can be.
What to do?
First, we should stop the diversion of funds away from public schools to for-profit private and charter schools.
Second, as a start, we should ramp up appropriations for public education so that Florida spending reaches the national average, at least.
Third, we need to create a partnership between all of the varied constituencies, including educators, parents and business, to be sure that we are giving our children the best educational opportunities we can to prepare them prosper in the 21st century.
Fourth, we need to make sure that Bright Futures lives up to its name by properly funding it.