Class Size Repeal on Hold

A petition to repeal the class size amendment in 2004 has been put on hold by its state Senate sponsor. The move comes at a time when polls show the majority of Floridians still favor smaller classes.

Its backers now say it would pass again.

"We are in a state that ranks 50th out of 50 states in per capita spending on public education and has the most overcrowded schools in the nation. It's a very difficult thing to spin to people that we shouldn't reduce class size,” explains Damien Filer.

The majority of Florida schools met their class size targets for the first year, but the most expensive part may not come until they must show smaller classes at the school level.

When asked if the state senator pulling the plug on the repeal was right when he said the effort would complicate the Presidential Election, Jeb Bush replied, "That was pure speculation on his part."

He says the public hasn't yet felt the pain.

"The public hasn't sensed the implications of this yet, and until they do it's hard to envision the legislature going about proposing repeal,” adds Gov. Bush.

But sponsors of the original amendment say this year's delay is all about politics and polls.

"I think the people feel condescended voters particularly in Florida I don't think want to be told that their vote didn't count the last time,” Filer adds.

Even by November 2006 the class size will only be partially implemented, making it doubtful that Republicans will want to make it the central issue of that governor's race. Florida's business interest will be back in the field with a poll to gage class size support in March.

Under the law enacted last year, class size will be measured at the district level until 2006. Not until 2009 is each and every class required to meet smaller sizes.