Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March 4: Accountability Goes Both Ways, Governor Crist

By Sylvia Gurinsky

In yesterday's State of the State address, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said:

I urge you to pass legislation requiring school districts to spend 70 percent of their budgets in the classroom for our students and teachers, and to instill transparency by requiring school districts to provide dollar-by-dollar details online. Floridians deserve to know how their hard-earned dollars are being spent, and parents have a right to demand accountability. And I ask you to consider, as I have proposed, increasing per-student funding - Florida's children deserve it.

Amen, but such accountability goes both ways. It's needed from the state, too.

Between the proposed budget released by Crist and what the Florida Legislature does, Floridians still get the feeling that they don't know exactly where their dollars go - especially with all those tax cuts Crist and lawmakers keep harping about.

Local school districts, colleges and universities have spent the last year cutting and cutting and cutting critical programs. There is not much more for them to cut. It has gotten to the point where parents have gone on hunger strikes and students and teachers have staged protests.

They've given their share of blame to local administrators, but they're starting to turn their eyes - rightly - toward Tallahassee. That's exactly where the focus belongs.

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