Statement: Sen. Gelber Comments on Lawsuit Challenging Adequacy of Public School Funding in Florida

Nov 18, 2009

Christian Ulvert


Miami Beach, Fla. - State Senator Dan Gelber offered the following comments regarding the lawsuit filed today by the Southern Legal Counsel and eight plaintiffs challenging the adequacy of public school funding in Florida:

"I commend the Southern Legal Counsel and the plaintiffs in their lawsuit filed today challenging the adequacy of public school funding in Florida. When Floridians amended their Constitution in 1998 to make "paramount" a "high quality" system of public education, they meant it. In the years that followed our public schools have become even more challenged. Florida has one of the very worst high school graduation rates, and an accountability system that narrows the curriculum and embraces mediocrity as a goal. Further, our teachers are paid $5000 below the national average. Even our own Board of Education — a group comprised of entirely Gov Bush and Crist appointees — acknowledged that the funding of public education is inadequate at their last Board meeting.

"I am hopeful that this lawsuit will shake some sense into a legislature that has failed to adequately fund public education. The fact is you pay for a cheap education forever, and until that truth is accepted by lawmakers, we will continue to shortchange our kids.

"I do think it is unfortunate that Attorney General Bill McCollum refused to file a school funding lawsuit as I urged him to do last month. Frankly, it is unfair to hope that public interest groups, or parents take on such a monumental task. It is the job — no the duty— of the Attorney General to make sure our Constitution is enforced, even if it means taking on the Legislature to do so. As Attorney General I will not hesitate for a moment to bring or join such a lawsuit."

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