Ads supporting effective public school reform initiative will run the same day the U.S. Supreme Court rules on constitutionality of vouchers for religious schools
A full-page ad running in newspapers across the state of Florida on Thursday will call on Gov. Jeb Bush to publicly support a ballot initiative that would reduce class sizes in the state’s public schools over an eight-year period.
The ad is sponsored by People For the American Way, which has 35,000 members and supporters in Florida, with offices in Miami and Tallahassee. The ad includes endorsements by the Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches, the Florida Education Association, and the Florida State Council of the Service Employees International Union.
“Florida ranks 43rd in the nation in student to teacher ratio, 49th in high school graduation rates, and 49th in education spending per capita,” said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. “There is an urgent need for leadership to strengthen public schools in Florida. The state can’t afford not to invest in smaller class sizes. If state officials will not lead, the people of Florida will.”
Supporters of the ballot initiative, which was unanimously approved for the ballot by the state supreme court and is now in the signature-gathering phase, emphasize that the state would be responsible for the cost of implementing the initiative, not local school districts.
The ad asks Florida voters to visit www.smallerclasses.org and download, sign, and mail in a petition to place the Initiative on the ballot. The ad will appear in the Miami Herald, Florida Times-Union, Orlando Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Tallahassee Democrat and the Tampa Tribune.
Also on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court will release a long-awaited decision on the constitutionality of Cleveland’s voucher program, which provides publicly funded vouchers for private, predominantly religious, schools.
Regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling, policy makers must weigh the costs and benefits of different approaches to school reform. Since 1990, at least 17 studies have established a direct link between class-size reduction and higher achievement by students. According to a recent analysis by People For the American Way Foundation, there is compelling evidence that smaller class sizes can improve academic achievement, while there no solid evidence that existing voucher programs strengthen students’ academic performance.
The ad is being paid for by the People For the American Way Florida Campaign Account.