The big news yesterday was Governor Rick Scott’s veto of the education portion of the budget otherwise known as the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP).  Though most supporters of public education are pleased with the announcement of an additional $200 million in state funding, the compromise might include the approval of the controversial HB 7069. We will have to wait and see what happens during a special legislative session next week to find out if HB 7069 becomes law. While the media has focused mostly on the veto of the education budget, Governor Scott’s veto letter includes some surprises. Here’s a brief breakdown of Scott’s veto list as it pertains to public education:

Let’s start with the good news first. Not often mistaken for a feminist, one of the first main points in Scott’s veto letter includes something for the ladies:

• Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products: $11.2 Million – HB 7109 creates a sales tax exemption on the purchase of feminine hygiene products.

Tax free feminine hygiene products! I thought this day would never come! Hallelujah sweet Jesus! The government is finally going to cut me a tax break on my monthly tampon and maxi-pad expenditures! Oh, wait, I’m about to hit menopause. Oh, well, next up on the shocking good news from the veto list: Governor Rick Scott vetoes Teach For America Funding!

“Teach for America, Inc. – Florida (Nonrecurring Funds)

(HB 2877)  $1,403,750”

Another line item veto for the corporate education reform movement included cuts to KIPP Charter schools:

“Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Jacksonville (Recurring

Base Appropriations Project)  $500,000”

They were both vetoed under the premise that they were not part of the state’s core education mission. Other notable programs that were cut because they did not meet the criteria for being part of the state’s education mission included:

“Kindness Matters (Senate Form 1584)  $142,500”

Well at least he’s honest. Anyone who has worked in Florida public schools and has had to deal with the nonsense coming out of Tallahassee will tell you that “kindness” is definitely not part of the state’s education mission!

The AVID program’s school reward money for students success on Advanced Placement and IB exams was also cut.

“Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) (Recurring

Base Appropriations Project)  $700,000”

Having taught AP World History to AVID students for several years, I can tell you that if you can get those kids to pass an AP exam your school should be rewarded! AVID programs have received some criticism as of late, but the idea of helping students from nontraditional backgrounds excel in a rigorous curriculum to prepare them for college is a good idea even if those hellacious 6 inch binders they make the kids haul around is not.

Apparently, helping disadvantaged kids succeed is not a priority of Governor Rick Scott because funding for Breakthrough Miami, which seeks to provide tuition free academic enrichment to underprivileged youth was also cut.

“Breakthrough Miami (HB 4101) $500,000”

Governor Rick Scott has never been seen as a champion for teachers (even though the Rick Scott raise of $2500 back in 2013 was the largest pay increase I have ever seen as a teacher) and he continues that trend with several other cuts.

The “Grow Your Own Teacher Scholarship” funding was also cut by $100,000.

“Grow Your Own Teacher Scholarship (HB 4065) $100,000”

I have no idea what that scholarship entails but the name cracks me up. I envision little children pouring water on some teacher seedlings in their “Grow Your Own Teacher” garden at their school. Or perhaps they can put teacher Chia pets in their classrooms and wait for them to sprout? If the state of Florida continues down their path of teacher degradation and abysmal teacher pay, they may indeed have to create some mutant GMO crop of teachers who are happy to put up with overcrowded classrooms, nonsense evaluations, bogus bonus programs, and Third World salaries.

Speaking of the Third World and teacher salaries, the Miami Dade Superintendent was not pleased that Governor Rick Scott vetoed a $100,000 study that would have addressed cost of living disparities in the school funding formula  Although the state certainly needs to step up funding for teachers salaries in counties in south Florida with exorbitant cost of living, I’m not sure we really need to spend $100,000 on a redundant study that would have been outsourced to a third party consultant. scott veto explanation

That concludes my brief summary of Governor Rick Scott’s notable veto items. If you would like to spend your weekend perusing the entire list of items vetoed from the budget click the link

I did find one other section from the Florida Education Finance Program intriguing. We have always been told that the legislature refuses to fund the class size amendment but the budget shows that almost $3 billion is allocated annually for class size reduction. Granted, I have no idea how that money is actually allocated, but that seems like a large chunk of change for a law that is being loosely enforced at best.

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