Fund Our Future is a statewide campaign to advocate for and shine a light on the needs of Florida’s public school students.
After 20 years, we are clearly at a crisis point, and too many of our children — Florida’s future — are not receiving the educational opportunities promised to them.
We believe the path to achieving a world-class education system is grounded in three principles:
- Student success, with goals such as ensuring safe learning environments, providing needed services, reducing class sizes, and prioritizing real learning over rote learning and high-stakes testing.
- Our public schools, in order to raise per-pupil spending to at least the national average, pay for initiatives mandated by the Legislature, and provide fair funding for districts and competitive salaries for our educators.
- Retention and recruitment, so that school districts can attract and keep the qualified teachers and staff who are fundamental to student success and achievement.
All three of these principles support one overarching goal: Fund Our Future.
Our state has been flunking on education funding.
Florida ranks consistently among the bottom 10 states in both per-student spending and pay for our teachers and education staff professionals. Florida earned an “F” for school spending in Education Week’s most recent National Report Card.
As of the 2018-2019 fiscal year, Florida’s K-12 education budget has not caught up with pre-recession levels when adjusted for inflation.
Politifact found that, at $7,408 in spending per student, the budget is more than $1,000 short of 2007-2008 levels in dollars per child. No matter that some state leaders point to “historic” funding for education, we are still in a huge hole for per-student spending and investment in our public schools.
At the same time, Florida’s taxpayers have demonstrated clear support for public education. In the 2018 elections, local voters in 19 Florida counties chose to tax themselves in order to pay our educators as professionals and increase funding to neighborhood public schools.
While political leaders in Tallahassee have too often failed to stand up for our students and public schools, voters across the state are willing to pay for the world-class education that our children deserve. They also showed that support for public schools isn’t red or blue — it ignores party lines.
It’s time to stand for our students and schools.
Lawmakers should follow the lead of their constituents and invest in our neighborhood public schools. For our students and the long-term interests of our state, we must “Fund Our Future.”
Funding our future does not mean diverting money from neighborhood public schools to private schools and for-profit charters. Taxpayers should not be asked to support schools that are not accountable to them, nor should they be forced to pay for schools that do not meet accepted educational standards for our students and a well-educated workforce.
As the Tampa Bay Times points out in an editorial decrying a proposal to direct more taxpayer dollars to private-school vouchers:
“Floridians have no idea if private schools are succeeding, because private schools aren’t held to the same standards as public schools. … What’s happening is the state is not succeeding at providing quality public schools in too many neighborhoods.”
Funding our future also does not mean dangling one-time bonuses for teachers. What our state needs, for the purposes of recruiting and retaining educators, is fair, competitive salaries that our teachers and education staff professionals can count on.
Funding our future means investing in public education and all the elements needed to provide our students with a world-class education — within the system of free, high-quality public schools mandated by our state’s Constitution.
- FEA Legislative Policy Agenda: Fund Our Future
- Editorial: DeSantis redefines public education
Tampa Bay Times (Feb. 18, 2019)
- Florida rates poorly in per-student funding, in new Education Week report
Tampa Bay Times (June 6, 2018)
- Fact check: Rick Scott says K-12, state university funding is highest in last six years
Politifact Florida (March 23, 2018)
- A decade of neglect: public education funding in the aftermath of the great recession
AFT report (May 2018; PDF 7.5 MB)