I had the opportunity to visit Florida’s Capitol in Tallahassee this year to meet with state lawmakers.
There are currently 71 Republicans and 46 Democrats in the Florida House of Representatives. There are 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats in the Florida Senate, which makes the Republicans the majority rule.
When it comes to passing legislation and public policies in the state of Florida, there is concern a disaster is brewing. An example is when I read an article about a Florida Republican lawmaker making a statement indicating the need to pass legislation for more voucher programs for charter and private schools. The state lawmaker said that the government does not allow parents to have a choice where their child or children can attend a K-12 school, and now they have that choice.
I never thought I would experience segregation in my life time, but history is repeating itself again like the 1960s and the 1970s.
State lawmakers, I ask you to come to the table to make sure that these charter and private schools are accountable, providing accommodations and academic services for: low preforming students, students with disabilities, special needs students, English language learner students, poverty-stricken students and homeless students. Please make sure you provide them with free and reduced lunches, because oftentimes their parents cannot afford to pay for their child or children to eat breakfast and lunch every day.
Have the students currently in alternative schools been considered for an opportunity to enter the charter or private school systems after they complete their discipline assignment? These are some of the concerns you need to think about instead of robbing K-12 public schools for the mighty dollar.
Arming teachers with guns — really? The Republican state lawmakers, which are the majority rule in Florida, would rather give teachers guns in K-12 public schools instead of providing more certified school resource officers within the school settings. How about increasing teacher pay across the board?
I know both Democrats and Republicans disagree on some legislation, but there is some commonality in the desire for what’s best for students in K-12 public schools.
There is a concern about Amendment 4. This Amendment was voted into law in the 2018 election by registered voters and law-abiding citizens for the restoration of voting rights for non-violent felons.
Now, Republican state lawmakers voted on legislation making non-violent felons pay their fines in order for them to receive their voting rights back, which is a poll-tax and is hypocritical.
The question is, are the bills and legislation you passed are for the common everyday hard working citizens, some of which are becoming homeless, or for the rich class? There has to be a way to close the divide. There are political figures that are feeding the division that causes a chain reaction from Washington D.C. to Tallahassee. It has to end.
I was informed the past practice among lawmakers after a session concluded, the Democrats and Republicans had lunch and dinner together, but now that does not happen anymore.
What more can be done to bring peace and friendship between to the two greatest parties in this great country we live in? Will breaking bread together create a stepping stone to legislation that considers the whole student population in the debate over vouchers for charter and private schools, Amendment 4 and the homeless citizens concerns?
Dr. Shandale Terrell | Lakeland