It’s Called Backdoor Legislation, Senator Gardiner, and the Florida Constitution Says You Can’t Do It

Vice President of the Florida Education Association Joanne McCall provides an effective response to Andy Gardiner’s shrill attack on the teacher’s she represents for their lawsuit against SB 850. With two days left in this year’s session, Gardiner allowed his bill addressing personal learning accounts for severely disabled students to be attached to SB 850 along with several other pieces of education legislation. Gardiner’s opinion piece cynically carved out his own bill as a metaphorical bloody shirt to demonize the state’s teachers as being against children with disabilities and their families.  McCall explains in the Tampa Tribune:

Incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner, in his July 25 commentary in the Tribune (“Union trying to limit choices for students with disabilities,” Other Views), seemed to miss that point when talking about legislation that he favors concerning personal learning accounts for students with disabilities. This provision and another bill expanding the state’s corporate voucher program failed to pass in the Legislature on the day before session ended. The bills were filed, went through the committee process and ended up not being approved.

On the final day of the session, both these failed bills were attached to Senate Bill 850. When SB 850 was filed in February, it was a five-page bill that expanded Florida’s collegiate high school program. During its travels through committees in the Florida House and Senate, additional provisions were added that were unrelated to collegiate high schools. Three weeks from the end of the legislative session, the bill had grown to 40 pages and included provisions dealing with public school improvement and accountability, amendments to the Career and Professional Education Act and items related to dropout prevention, school hazing and middle grades reform.

The Florida Constitution contains restrictions to the Legislature’s authority to create laws, stating that “every law shall embrace but one subject … and the subject shall be briefly expressed in the title.” The legislation passed on the final day of session contains multiple subjects — including the expansion of vouchers — and these multiple subjects are not expressed briefly in the bill’s title.

And it’s not just that the bills were attached at the last minute, but they were changed from their final versions that had failed the day before. For those reasons, the Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit challenging the way SB 850 became law.

McCall’s much more measured tone as compared to Gardiner’s ear-piercing, selective outrage better serves Floridians as a better illustration of education policy and legislation.



About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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3 Responses to It’s Called Backdoor Legislation, Senator Gardiner, and the Florida Constitution Says You Can’t Do It

  1. lovebroker says:

    Hacks? People that provide private school funding for minorities are now bad people, strange days these are indeed. Apparentley your plan is to segragate these private schools. This is a self serving ,narcissictic, attack on minorities. My understanding is that the teacher ( I used that term very loosley here) intent was to teach his class a lesson on constitutional law correct? Ok lesson learned, and thank you very little. Recind the lawsuit.
    The most dishearting thing is that these schools and teachers have come to think that the $8000 dollars set aside by the state for a childs education, belongs to them. When the public finds out that the step up kids are getting by on $5000 per child and the public schools are using $8000 and doing an inferior job, well how should I say the poo poo will hit the fan. These private schools have introduced the common core years before public schools, use the Iowa assessments( the undisputed Harvard of testing, more challanging than the FCATS you sir get the silly goose of the year award.
    mediatore di amore aka advocate for love hugs and kisses

  2. lovebroker says:

    Yes moderate you silly goose.

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