Smith weighs in on higher education, K-12 and Florida's dangerous obsession with charter schools

Carlos is a graduate of Florida public schools and UCF, and he’s committed to making sure our local schools have the resources they need to provide our kids a great education. Carlos will work to reduce high-stakes testing that prevents teachers from truly teaching, and he’ll fight attempts to divert public school money to unaccountable for-profit charter schools. Carlos will also work to restore funding to the Bright Futures program because students deserve affordable higher education.

Investing in our public schools 

We cannot expect quality public education if we aren't willing to invest in it. Having a legislature that makes fully funding our public schools a priority is a must. Setting fair and consistent performance standards for our schools and teachers is also critical to ensure we achieve the desired learning outcomes for our students. That means letting teachers teach, reducing our reliance on high-stakes testing, and using multiple measures to effectively evaluate student and teacher performance. 


Education Privatization is NOT working 

Jeb Bush's failed education policies have saddled Florida taxpayers for the last 15 years. Unaccountable charter schools run by for-profit charter management companies eat-up taxpayer money, have very little oversight, and continue to enrich developers and politicians in their favor. We must reign in the waste and abuse happening in charter schools. Real education reform means electing new leaders that are not bought and sold by the charter schools or by those trying to privatize education.


Affordable College Education

Nothing would do more to bring opportunity to young men and women in Florida than to make affordable college education at public universities available to everyone. It’s that simple. But access to higher education is not a reality for too many of Florida's working families. The legislature's failure to invest in the Bright Futures Scholarship Program, which I used to put myself through college and get a 4-year degree at UCF, is part of the problem.

In 2009, Republicans in Tallahassee slashed Bright Futures scholarships in half. Florida spent $436 million on the program in 2009, but in 2015 spent a meager $239 million. That’s 31,000 students who had the scholarship to a mere 15,000 students who now qualify. Black and Latino students suffered the most. In the first year after the cuts, 47% of Latino freshmen and 62% of Black freshmen were no longer eligible for Bright Futures.

We need voices in Tallahassee that will help put an end to the crushing burden of student loan debt that afflicts moms and dads, and their sons or daughters. 

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