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In 2018, Floridians voted in favor of Amendment 4, which aimed to restore the voting rights of ex-felons who have completed their sentences. However, in 2019, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 7066, which introduced a new requirement for ex-felons to pay off all fines, fees, and restitution before regaining their voting rights. This law, also known as the “poll tax” law, sparked widespread controversy, with many claiming that it was a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise ex-felons. In this blog post, we will delve into the Florida 65 percent law, which is another contentious issue in the Florida education system.
Florida’s 65 Percent Law
The 65 percent law in Florida was introduced in 2007, under the then-Governor, Charlie Crist. The law mandated that school districts in Florida spend at least 65 percent of their budget on classroom instruction. This meant that only 35 percent of the budget could be spent on non-instructional items such as administration, transportation, and maintenance. The law was highly controversial from the beginning, with critics arguing that it was too prescriptive and took away local control from school districts.
Supporters of the law argued that it would increase the quality of education in Florida by ensuring that more money was spent on direct classroom instruction. They claimed that by mandating a minimum percentage of the budget for classroom instruction, the law would reduce the amount of money that school districts could waste on non-essential items.
The Impact of the 65 Percent Law
Since its implementation, the 65 percent law has had mixed results. On the one hand, it has resulted in an increase in the percentage of funds that school districts spend on classroom instruction. However, it has also led to unintended consequences such as a decrease in funding for essential non-instructional items such as transportation and maintenance.
Moreover, some school districts have struggled to comply with the law, especially those with a higher percentage of low-income students. These school districts often have to spend more money on non-instructional items such as transportation, nutrition, and support services, leaving them with less money to spend on classroom instruction.
Additionally, critics of the law argue that it has not led to any significant improvement in the quality of education in Florida. They claim that the law has simply shifted the focus from one area of education spending to another, without addressing the underlying issues that affect the quality of education in the state.
The Controversy Surrounding the 65 Percent Law
The controversy surrounding the 65 percent law in Florida stems from its prescriptive nature and the lack of flexibility it provides to school districts. Critics argue that the law takes away local control and forces school districts to spend money in a specific way, regardless of their unique needs and circumstances.
Opponents of the law also point out that it does not take into account the fact that some school districts may have higher costs associated with providing education to their students. For example, school districts with a higher percentage of low-income students may need to spend more money on transportation, nutrition, and support services, leaving them with less money to spend on classroom instruction.
Moreover, opponents of the law argue that it is not based on any solid evidence that increasing the percentage of funds spent on classroom instruction leads to better educational outcomes. They claim that the law is based on a flawed assumption that more money spent on classroom instruction automatically leads to better outcomes, without taking into account other factors such as teacher quality, curriculum, and student engagement.
Efforts to Repeal the 65 Percent Law
Since its implementation, there have been several efforts to repeal the 65 percent law in Florida. In 2013, the state legislature passed a bill that would have repealed the law, but it was vetoed by then-Governor Rick Scott. In 2018, a ballot initiative to repeal the law was launched by the Florida Education Association, but it failed to garner enough signatures to make it onto the ballot.
Currently, there are ongoing efforts to repeal the 65 percent law in Florida. In January 2021, Florida State Senator Lori Berman introduced a bill that would repeal the law and allow school districts to have more flexibility in how they spend their funds. The bill has received support from education advocacy groups and teachers’ unions, who argue that the law has had a negative impact on the quality of education in Florida.
In conclusion, the 65 percent law in Florida has been a highly controversial issue since its implementation in 2007. While supporters of the law argue that it has led to an increase in the percentage of funds spent on classroom instruction, opponents claim that it has led to unintended consequences and has not improved the quality of education in the state. Efforts to repeal the law have been ongoing, and it remains to be seen what the future holds for education spending in Florida.