Even liberals now are talking about abolishing Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission, which recently proposed eight constitutional amendments.
An example of why, for once, liberals might be right: Some members of the 1998 commission are seeking to file a brief in the Florida Supreme Court as part of a legal battle about whether the state is meeting its constitutional duty to provide a high-quality system of public schools.
This “constitutional duty” is one liberals made up and persuaded voters to adopt in 1998. It is a duty designed to force legislators to needlessly throw money at government schools.
Everyone understands the Big Education shuffle: Liberal legislators appropriate more money to government schools, most of which goes into teacher salaries. The powerful teacher unions get a percentage of it from payroll dues deductions. They use part of the windfall to finance the election campaigns of liberals, including those running for the legislature. The cycle continues, to the detriment of taxpayers and children.
To ensure the scam would continue ad infinitum, the 1998 CRC proposed this language as a constitutional amendment.
“The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require.”
All of the state’s liberal editorial pages deliriously promoted the amendment, playing on the fact that many people think the government schools are doing a good job.
It was enacted.
The first thing it accomplished was to serve as the main argument when Big Education sought to squelch Gov. Jeb Bush’s voucher program. That likely was the impetus for it all along.
The voucher program allowed poor minority children to escape failing government schools and actually get an education in private schools. More affluent parents always have had that option but the poor remained trapped as their futures were crushed by the greed of liberals.
Remarkably, the Supreme Court fell for the argument and issued one of the most poorly reasoned arguments it ever published, saying the program did not uphold the newly minted “right” of government schools to deny kids an education.
Further mischief occurred later with the “classroom size” amendment, to wit: “To assure that children attending public schools obtain a high quality education, the legislature shall make adequate provision to ensure that, by the beginning of the 2010 school year, there are a sufficient number of classrooms…”
Florida spent billions to lighten the workload of teachers without having any discernible effect on the educational outcomes.
Both amendments were based on the faulty reasoning that inputs (money) determine outcomes (education).
The nebulous term “adequate provision” is nothing but license for the courts to write their own law, which they did.
So the liberal experiments have resulted in the denial of education opportunities for poor minority children – alleviated by the emergence of tax credit scholarships – and cost Florida taxpayers billions of dollars.
Those two failures alone are reason enough to disband the mischievous revision commission. The Florida Legislature has the power to place proposed amendments on the ballot, and that is good enough.