Future of public education in Florida voters’ hands

voter buttonsThis election cycle, Florida voters will choose a new governor, half of the state senate and the entire state house. The winners of these races will shape the future of Florida’s public schools determining school funding, teacher evaluations and pay scales, testing policies, graduation requirements and more. The new governor will choose a Commissioner of Education and appoint members to the Board of Education with authority over public school policy from PreK to 12th grade and the state college system.

In addition, this year’s ballot will have 13 proposed constitutional amendments for voters to decide. Some proposals were put on the ballot through citizen-led efforts. Others were placed on the ballot through the Constitutional Revision Commission- an appointed body that reviews the state constitution every twenty years. The deceptive Amendment 8, written by the CRC, seeks to add term limits to locally elected school board members but also establishes a charter authorizing body that removes the local control over charter school applications.

Florida voters will have more choices on the ballot than ever before. The Tampa Bay Times reports:

A flood of new candidates for seats in the state Legislature, many of them Democratic women, met June 22nd’s deadline to get on the ballot and give voters many more choices than in past election cycles…The newcomers include more than 80 women legislative challengers across the state.

State government has had single party rule for over 20 years with Republicans controlling both houses of the Florida Legislature and the Governor’s office. However, due to “a burst of civic activism” many incumbents won’t return to their seats unchallenged as in previous years. Democrats fielded challengers in every Senate race for the first time in recent memory.

How this new activism impacts children’s issues and public education remains to be seen. It is up to advocates to ensure that all eligible Floridians are registered to vote, are informed on the challenges facing education and turn out to vote for pro-public school candidates.

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