Florida Votes In Favor of Class Size Limits
Feature Story by civilrights.org staff - 11/22/2002On election day, Florida voters passed an amendment that called for class size restrictions to be implemented in the state of Florida by 2010. The passage of this amendment was a victory for many of its supporters including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the People for the American Way (PFAW).
Amendment 9 requires that the state of Florida build 29,000 new classrooms by 2010, when the class-size cap fully takes effect. This will cap class sizes at no more than 18 students for kindergarten through third-grade classes, no more than 22 students for grades four through eight, and no more than 25 students for high school grades, excluding nonacademic courses such as chorus and drama.
Kweisi Mfume, NAACP President/CEO, said "The Florida class-size ballot initiative is a victory for the children of Florida as well as a victory for quality education across the nation. Quantifiable research indicates that smaller class sizes yield tremendous educational benefits to students, particularly students of color."
The incumbent Governor Jeb Bush, who had claimed its fiscal implications were enormous, had opposed the amendment. During his reelection campaign, he claimed it would cost as much as $27 billion dollars to implement. Supporters claim that the figure is much lower, about $400 million dollars.
Two additional education initiatives passed as well, demonstrating the importance of the issue to voters. Amendment 11 will create a board of governors to oversee Florida's 11 public universities and Amendment 8 will make pre-kindergarten available to all 4-year-olds throughout Florida. Both easily won passage.