SJR 244 (Gruters) Partisan Elections for Members of District School Boards will be heard in the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee on Tuesday, November 30. If this joint resolution passes both chambers of the Legislature, it will be placed on the 2022 ballot as a proposed amendment to the State Constitution. It would require at least 60% voter approval to pass, and changes would start with the 2024 election cycle.
Your voice is needed to OPPOSE this bill. Here are some facts and talking points for your consideration:
1. In 1998, as part of an effort to take politics out of school board elections, Florida voters approved – with 64% of the vote -- a state constitutional amendment to make them nonpartisan. This made sense then, and still makes sense now. We need less politics in education, not more.
2. School Board members’ decisions should be non-partisan, based on the facts and data that are available to them, and devoted to the common good of our children.
3. Cooperation among School Board members is more likely when political party affiliation has diminished importance.
4. We need school board candidates who are vetted by voters based on ideas, knowledge, and experience, and not based on expensive glossy brochures funded by political parties.
5. Partisan candidates feel pressure to appeal to the extremes of their parties, especially during primaries when NPA voters and members of the opposite party are locked out of the voting process. This generally leads to the most ideological candidates winning who are not necessarily the best qualified.
6. Political party identification on a ballot tends to promote low-information voters who vote “up and down the ballot” for one party, which can result in the election of poor-quality candidates.
7. Partisan elections decrease the pool of qualified candidates due to fear of increased partisan political attacks on the campaign trail and the increased costs of campaigning in primary and general elections.
8. Voters tend to prefer pragmatic, centrist candidates who feel free to be independent from their registered political party’s organization, and who make unencumbered decisions for the good of all our children.
9. A recent North Carolina study showed that a shift to a partisan School Board election in Republican-dominated districts is likely to result in fewer Democrats being elected (especially candidates of color), reductions in per-pupil spending, increases in teacher turnover, and hiring more inexperienced teachers. (https://entr.uga.edu/sites/default/files/inline-files/Williams_Breyon.pdf)
Please contact the following Senate Ethics and Elections Committee members before Tuesday, Nov. 30, and tell them you OPPOSE SJR 244 (Gruters) Partisan Elections for Members of District School Boards.
(I have grouped the emails together below for easy cut/paste into emails.)
Chair: Senator Dennis Baxley (R) - firstname.lastname@example.org - (850) 487-5012
Vice Chair: Senator Annette Taddeo (D) - email@example.com - (850) 487-5040
Senator Lori Berman (D) - firstname.lastname@example.org - (850) 487-5031
Senator Randolph Bracy (D) - email@example.com - (850) 487-5011
Senator Jennifer Bradley (R) - firstname.lastname@example.org - (850) 487-5005
Senator Doug Broxson (R) - email@example.com - (850) 487-5001
Senator George B. Gainer (R) - firstname.lastname@example.org - (850) 487-5002
Senator Ileana Garcia (R) - email@example.com - (850) 487-5037
Senator Tina Scott Polsky (D) - firstname.lastname@example.org - (850) 487-5029
Jean Siebenaler, Legislative Chair
Democratic Women's Club of Florida
CONTACTS FOR COMMITTEE MEMBERS (DOWNLOAD):