Florida Education Association

Teachers’ union ad sends Corcoran down the drain

Florida’s largest teachers’ union is taking to the airwaves to hammer the latest move by House leaders to tie major education policies to the state budget process.

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved a 198-page “conforming” bill, which is formally linked to the budget process, that has dozens of changes for the K-12 system. The bill — which includes a voucher-like plan that would let bullied children transfer to private schools — has a measure directly aimed at the teachers’ union, allowing the unions to lose their state certification if the membership drops below 50 percent of the bargaining unit.

This week, the Florida Education Association responded, announcing a media campaign that features  a 30-second spot slamming the House leadership and, in particular, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican who may run for governor.

The spot, titled “The Swamp,” is expected to be aired on television channels in the Tallahassee market this week.

“Political insider Richard Corcoran has a plan to divert even more of our tax dollars to unaccountable private schools while slashing the pay of even our best teachers,” the ad says.

“His bully bill wastes more money on failed programs while our schools starve, and our children suffer,” the ad goes on.  “It’s time to drain the swamp…and we know just where to begin.”

The video, not so subtly, ends with a picture of Corcoran disappearing down a street sewer grate.

By Lloyd Dunkelberger.

Coalition wants more Constitution Revision Commission hearings

As the Florida Constitution Revision Commission begins its debate this week on a slate of constitutional amendments for the 2018 ballot, a group of Democratic-leaning organizations is calling for more public hearings.

The commission has already received more than 1,000 proposals from the public and is expected to extend the filing deadline, because of Hurricane Irma, to Oct. 6. The 37 members of the commission will have until Oct. 31 to file their own proposals under the new schedule, with seven commissioner proposals filed thus far.

The coalition, which includes the Florida Education Association, the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Florida AFL-CIO, the ACLU and other groups, in a letter today asked the commission to consider another round of public hearings around the state “after the full commission has determined, by majority vote, which proposals will be further considered.”

“As was evident during the first round of public hearings, Florida’s citizens are concerned about a wide range of issues in our state. A second round of hearings after many issues are eliminated will allow citizens the opportunity to make focused and in-depth public comment about issues that have been determined to have a real chance of making it to the ballot,” the letter said. “And commissioners will have the benefit of that comment before they take their final vote.”

Additionally, the coalition asked the commission to hold itself to a strict interpretation of Florida’s open-government laws, including prohibiting private communication between two commissioners when they are discussing proposals.

The Constitution Revision Commission meets every 20 years and has the unique ability to place constitutional amendments directly on the ballot. Any proposals placed on the 2018 general election ballot by the CRC must be approved by at least 60 percent of the voters to be enacted.

— By Lloyd Dunkelberger.