Charlie Crist Talks Up Education

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Gov. Charlie Crist says he wants to make Florida the best state in America when it comes to our children’s education. Crist won cheers from Republicans and Democrats alike when he pledged billions of budget dollars to support teachers and schools during Tuesday’s annual State of the State address.

The governor was greeted with hugs and kisses from both sides of the aisle as he made his way to deliver his first State of the State Speech. He drew wild cheers from Democrats as he singled out school teachers for special praise.

“Central to the success of public education are Florida’s teachers. They are the bedrock upon which we build our children’s future.”

The governor played a video of a teacher who left the profession because the pay isn’t great, and promised to pump nearly $300 million into a boost for teacher salaries.

For the first time a governor is also embracing Florida’s Class Size Amendment. Charlie Crist says he’ll push for nearly four billion dollars this year to help meet the requirements of smaller classes.

“Smaller classes provide a better environment for learning.”

But Crist’s plan to expand a controversial reward program for the top 25 percent of Florida teachers is making some Democrats see red.

Rep. Susan Bucher says Crist is just taking money away from other education programs and earmarking it for a select group.

“The devil is in the details and if we’re just shifting money around, that’s not something that we want to do or that I want to see.”

Critics argue real education reform won’t happen without a real infusion of cash, and the honeymoon could end abruptly for the popular governor if he can’t put the state’s money where his mouth is.

Gov. Charlie Crist also recommended an increase in funding for universities and community colleges without raising tuition, but the legislature has the final say over whether to adopt his education plan.