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Teachers Campaign For Smaller Class Size Against Amendment 8

August 13, 2010

MIAMI, Fla. - Parents and educators, led by state Sen. J. Alex Villalobos, kicked off the Vote No on 8 campaign Thursday to keep the smaller class sizes voters approved in a 2002 constitutional amendment. This year is the end of the eight-year plan to reduce class size to no more than 18 students per class through third grade, 22 in grades four through eight, and 25 in grades nine through 12.

Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Education Association (FEA), the state's largest teacher's union, says Amendment 8, if passed, would strike down the smaller class size requirements, and although that's clear to him, he says it may not be clear to voters.

"It can be confusing. It's written in a way to suggest this will help improve class size in Florida, when in fact, the real story is this is going to mean larger class sizes in Florida."

Pudlow claims smaller class sizes have meant bigger learning gains, especially in the crowded South Florida schools.

"A teacher has a better chance of having control of the class; a teacher has a better chance of connecting one-on-one with students with smaller class size. You're going to be able to learn more if you have more interaction with the teacher."

Smaller class sizes are crucial to the state having a well-educated workforce in the future, he says. But, even with funding for smaller classes, Florida ranks near the bottom of all states in spending on education.

"Anybody who says it costs too much should know you get what you pay for. If you're going to try to get by on providing the least amount possible and hoping for the best, that's not exhibiting leadership and it's not good strategy for the state."

Amendment 8 was placed on the Nov. 2 ballot by legislators concerned about the cost of implementing the smaller class size requirements currently in the state constitution. FEA is challenging the amendment in the courts based on the belief that it does not describe its impact in "clear and unambiguous" language.

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL