Back to School for Lawmakers

Florida lawmakers could find themselves sitting at the front of the classroom, if an Orlando group gets its way. The so-called Real Hero Foundation of Apopka is the driving force behind a petition drive to teach lawmakers school lessons.

The whole idea behind this grass roots movement is to force lawmakers to substitute teach three days a year, but that's not all the group has in mind. Teachers in Leon County have 180 days to get area kids up to par in reading, writing and arithmetic.

A petition drive underway in Orlando is seeking a constitutional amendment to force Florida lawmakers to work three days a year as a substitute teacher, leaving educators with just 177 days to work miracles.

"I can't see taking somebody off the street to come and do things not equipped to do put us behind and we don't have time to be behind," says Donna Callaway, RAA Middle principal.

Besides, putting lawmakers at the front of the classroom, the petition wants them behind the wheel too, as a school bus monitor. Leon County drivers welcome the extra rider. Petition pushers say the goal is to expose state senators and representatives to teaching realities.

Rep. Curtis Richardson commends the effort but doesn't think a constitutional amendment is the way to go. Local educators fear the petition isn't student orientated and would only benefit lawmakers.

The petition drive also wants the constitutional amendment to state that school districts must pay the legislators when they substitute. Substitutes in Leon County make about $60 a day, and this raises concerns for local educators who say they need the money for themselves.