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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Foundation for Florida's future releases report card on how legislators voted on education

Posted By on Sat, Jun 8, 2019 at 9:58 AM

  • Photo via Florida House of Representatives
Florida legislators just received their end of session grades on education policy, and their marks were largely dependent upon party affiliation.

Former Florida governor and 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future issued its conservative hack-job of a "Florida Education Report Card" this week. According to the group's website, the annual card recognizes lawmakers "who took bold action to pass student-centered legislation during the 2019 legislative session." In other words, it's a calculation of each legislator's voting record on education.

Of the 117 members of the Florida House, 74 received either an A or A+, while the foundation handed down 18 Fs, 11 Ds, nine Cs and five Bs.

Meanwhile, no one in the state Senate received less than a C.

But don't take the grades at face value. Peculiarly, the majority of good marks received this time around were awarded to Republican politicians. By comparison, most of the state's Democrats fared considerably worse.

Take the F given to state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, and the A+ given to state Rep. Kimberly Daniels, D-Jacksonville, as an example.

Daniels, as you may remember, is the same Northeast Florida Democrat who sponsored legislation that requires the state's public schools to display Florida's motto "In God We Trust" in a "conspicuous" place on campuses.

Daniels, alongside state Reps. James Bush of Miami, Susan Valdes of Tampa and Wengay Newton of St. Petersburg were among only nine Democrats to end with a rank on the foundation's so-called "Honor Roll" this year.

Valdes and Newton backed the group's proposals 91 percent of the time.

On the other hand, Eskamani has previously voiced her criticism of charter schools, such as in a March op-ed on the website Florida Politics.

In speaking to how Florida's public schools have long been required to meet safety regulations, and how charter schools aren't, Eskamani wrote:
Private schools and some charters in our state are cutting corners and building new schools without emergency shelters and without basic safety standards. Some have even opened without the required fire inspection or building permit, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The lack of regulation and oversight over these schools is creating poor learning environments and putting many of the children of Florida at risk.

She was critical, and rightly so.

But it wasn't just Eskamani who received an F. In fact, all 18 Fs awarded in the Florida House were given to Democrats, including state Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Evan Jenne and Margaret Good, among others.

Can you see the pattern yet, dear reader?

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