Amendment #9 would funnel money to teachers unions, school constructions unions, and do nothing for students

WASHINGTON – Proposed Amendment #9, on Florida\’s ballot this November, is purported to boost student achievement by limiting class sizes to 18 students in grades K-3, 22 in grades 4-8, and 25 in grades 9-12. But the evidence that reduced class sizes will improve performance is sketchy at best, and the costs of the proposal are outrageous.

The Revenue Estimating Conference has projected the cost of the program at between $20 and $27.5 billion by the year 2010, or roughly $3.5 billion per year. This is money the state doesn\’t have, and it would have to be funded by massive tax increases. In addition, the diversion of funds into dubious class size reduction programs takes money away from proven methods to increase student performance.

"Spending billions on class size reduction is a distraction, a ruse," said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington, DC. "On the one hand, it is a way to excuse poor performance by those charged with educating our children. At the same time, it allows public employee unions and building unions to raid the state budget in the name of the children."

Class size reduction requires more than just hiring thousands of new teachers. First, these teachers do not currently exist, and they will either have to be trained at taxpayer expense, or unqualified teachers will be left to do the job. Under current rules, each of these new teachers will be eligible for tenure, ensuring up to 40 years of mandated higher costs, plus pension expenses, even if class size reduction proves to be yet another failed education fad. And every new teacher will require new space to teach in, so construction companies will get rich churning out new classroom space. The Amendment would create state liabilities for the next half century that would greatly exceed projected expenses.

"After decades of chasing every frivolous educational fad and neglecting every proven teaching method, the educational establishment has the gall to come to the taxpayers and ask for billions more to cut its workload?" Norquist continued. "Using our children as pawns to funnel money into wasteful special interest projects is unconscionable. There are more cost effective ways to improve our schools."