FL Gov. Scott’s public education, economic failures highlight danger of his U.S. Senate bid

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by Brian Washington

Outgoing Florida Governor Rick Scott recently announced he’s making a run for the U.S. Senate.

Yes, we’re talking about the same Rick Scott who spent a good chunk of his time as governor shoveling money into unaccountable charter schools and private school voucher schemes. Educators know that charter schools and vouchers, which give your tax dollars to private schools to pay the tuition of a select few, starve public schools and the students who attend them of badly needed funding.

However, education voters in Florida have good memories, especially when it comes to governors who try to dismantle public schools.

Rick Scott may be hoping that education voters get a case of amnesia at the ballot box this fall, but we will not forget,” said Florida Education Association President Joanne McCall, an educator who represents more than 140,000 teachers and school support professionals. “We will stand against candidates who have harmed public education, whether they’re running in a local race or for federal office.

When it comes to strengthening public education, teachers and support professionals describe Scott as a “real dud.” Here’s why:

  • Despite his claims of historic education funding, Florida is still $1,000 below 2007 per-student funding levels (adjusted for the cost of living);
  • This year, his last as governor, he signed into law HB 7055, the bill that attempts to silence teachers’ voices and funnels more tax dollars to unaccountable private schools and charters; and
  • The first bill he signed into law, SB 736, piled even more days of testing on Florida’s already over-tested students.

As he exits the governor’s mansion, Scott leaves behind a legacy of poverty and stunted economic growth. Forty-five percent of Florida households qualify as working poor. Thirty-six counties have lost jobs. The state struggles with 1.2 percent job growth, compared to 3 percent growth nationally.

Educators have launched a social media campaign (#BeThere4PublicEd) to make sure Scott’s dismal record stays at the forefront of voters’ minds. As an advocate for public schools, you must make sure that your friends, neighbors, and family members understand what’s at stake this election cycle and the type of damage Scott leaves behind.

Scott seeks the seat currently held by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who received an “A” from the National Education Association on its legislative report card. The NEA represents about 3 million educators nationwide.

 

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