Advocates for children are complaining loudly that legislation creating a pre-k program in Florida is cheap and not what voters mandated.
The plan will be under discussion next week in Tallahassee as the Legislature meets in special session. Even Gov. Jeb Bush has some problems with what lawmakers are suggesting.
Georgia’s pre-k program is a model for the nation. Teachers in the Peach State must have bachelor’s degrees. Florida’s plan requires only a high school degree to begin.
Georgia kids spend six and a half hours a day learning. The Florida plan calls for just three hours. That’s something Georgia educator Jeanna Mayhill of Thomasville just don’t think is enough.
"You take a typical child who after lunch if they will be coming into a program will be needing a nap, and is that really a useful use of our resources?"
Georgia spends almost $4,000 a year on each child for pre-k. Florida is allocating about $3,000. Even conservative Dominic Calabro of Florida Taxwatch says the state is trying to get by on the cheap.
“The more you can invest and see that investment is in high quality content in the teachers, the better the chances are that you are going to produce kids that perform."
Even the governor is expressing concerns about the quality of the Legislature’s bill, especially the 18 to 1 student/teacher ratio.
Even with a better student teacher ratio, Roy Miller of Florida Children’s Campaign is giving the Florida plan low marks.
“Give this plan a grade, please. As it currently is written, D+ C-, is that high quality? "No, it’s low quality babysitting for the regular school year."
Taxwatch says state lawmakers should forego the hundreds of millions of dollars they spend on turkeys for their districts and use the money to invest in a quality program, not a cheap one.