Groups Join Appeal to Keep Amendment 8 on Ballot!
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Groups Join Appeal Asking Court to Keep Amendment 8 on Ballot
Arguments in Amendment 8 Ballot Decision to be Heard by Supreme Court
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Aug. 28, 2018) – The State of Florida requested the Florida Supreme Court quash a lower court order and approve Amendment 8 for placement on the November ballot, submitting a Petitioner’s Brief Monday by Attorney General Pam Bondi. The State’s appeal will be heard by the Supreme Court next Wednesday, Sept. 5, and is now supported by two amicus briefs submitted by groups with distinct interests in the issue.
The Urban Leagues of both Miami and Central Florida, along with the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools and the Florida Charter School Alliance, have filed briefs in support of the State’s appeal. The State argues that a Tallahassee Circuit Court judge erred in his decision to remove Amendment 8 from the ballot last week, explaining it will neither dilute “the essential role school boards play in authorizing” charter schools, nor “exclude district school boards from any role in establishing” them.
“In reaching its conclusion to the contrary, the Circuit Court mistakenly relied on the language of an earlier draft proposal that was never approved by the CRC and is not before this Court,” the State’s brief explains.
“We remain determined and hopeful that the court will make the right decision to allow voters to decide Amendment 8 on its merits,” said Erika Donalds, mother of three school-age children, a Collier County School Board Member and the main sponsor of Amendment 8 on the Constitutional Revision Commission. “Those with a mission to preserve the status quo have created unwarranted confusion and fear over what Amendment 8 will do. And we’re working to correct the record. This effort has always been about students. I hope more adults will remember that.”
The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools and Florida Charter School Alliance Amicus Brief:
The Consortium and Alliance – in their brief filed this week – cite their “unique position to assist the Court in understanding the existing relationship between charter schools and the state’s school districts and how Amendment 8 maintains that status quo rather than alters it, while also granting the Legislature the flexibility to make future changes to public school options.”
Addressing confusion generated by opponents over the exclusion of the phrase “charter schools” from the ballot summary, the brief sheds light on a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of Amendment 8.
“Public charter schools are only one of a multitude of non-traditional public school options that currently exist for students in Florida and that may benefit from passage of Amendment 8,” the brief explains. “It is drafted broadly to apply to all public schools (charter included)—those existing today and those that may exist in the future. Because there is no way to know exactly what future students will require from public education in Florida, nor the policy preferences of the legislature in years to come, Amendment 8 ensures the legislature has the flexibility to make policy decisions and provide innovative approaches to how future public schools are operated, controlled, and supervised.”
The brief goes on to underscore that the passage of Amendment 8 will not alter the current relationship between public charter schools and district school boards.
The Urban Leagues’ Amicus Brief:
The two Urban Leagues, in their joint brief, state their distinct interest in improving Florida’s education quality and in increasing educational choices for the low-income communities they serve.
“All of Florida’s citizens deserve the opportunity to vote on whether Florida will be a state where children of color have better, more robust educational options or whether the local school districts should keep their virtually unfettered power to stifle competition to the detriment of the State and its most needy students,” the brief states.
“The trial court, in particular, seemed to think it problematic that Revision 8’s summary did not mention the word ‘charter schools,’” the brief goes on to explain. “But, if Revision 8 passes, the Florida Legislature may decide to open competition in public education to other entities besides charter schools. Hence, any summary of Revision 8 that included the word ‘charter schools,’ as the trial court would require, might turn out to be both misleading and wrong.”
On the November general election ballot, Floridians will have the chance to vote on amendments to the State Constitution, a process which only happens every 20 years. Proposed amendments are developed with input from Floridians and drafted and approved through Florida’s Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC) process.
Amendment 8, known as the education amendment, would create eight-year term limits for Florida school board members to bring fresh faces and ideas to education. It would also remove outdated red tape, making way for student-centered public education possibilities, and it would prioritize and protect civic education to help students become informed, engaged citizens. Each policy impacts innovation and opportunity for Florida education. They were grouped logically through the CRC process, in the same way other amendments throughout Florida history have been grouped.
Amendment 8 will read as follows on the ballot, Nov. 6, 2018: “SCHOOL BOARD TERM LIMITS AND DUTIES; PUBLIC SCHOOLS. — Creates a term limit of eight consecutive years for school board members and requires the legislature to provide for the promotion of civic literacy in public schools. Currently, district school boards have a constitutional duty to operate, control, and supervise all public schools. The amendment maintains a school board’s duties to public schools it establishes, but permits the state to operate, control, and supervise public schools not established by the school board.”
8isGreat.org is a non-profit organization created to promote the passage of proposed Florida Constitutional Amendment 8. 8isGreat.org was formed and is led by Collier County School Board Member Erika Donalds, the main sponsor of the proposed Amendment on the Constitutional Revision Commission. Along with Commissioner Donalds, 8isGreat.org executive board members include Indian River County School Board Chairman Shawn Frost and Duval County School Board Member Scott Shine. To learn more, visit https://www.8isgreat.org/.