House leader discusses education, taxes11/13/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Ever since the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) began being used by the state as the main assessment instrument to measure public schools and students, a debate has raged on whether the test is a legitimate way of measuring students progress.
But after 10 years and troubling indicators, like drop out and graduation rates, there are indications that even some Republican legislators are looking at a different way to asses students.
Tonight, a bipartisan group of legislators and education officials depart for Albany, New York, to learn more about that stateâ€™s assessment test, called the Regents.
The delegation is being led by House Schools and Learning Chairman Joe Pickens, R-Palatka. Joining him on the trip is House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach.
Joining Dan Gelbar in New York this week will be Senate K-12 Education Chairman Don Gaetz of Niceville. Gatez told the Orlando Sentinel this week that adding the Regents exam could help the Florida transcend the 10-year-old debate of whether the FCAT is good or bad.
WMNF asked Gelbar if he had any thoughts on the just announced proposal for the Tampa Bay Rays to build a new baseball park along the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg.
Part of the financing for the $450-million facility would include getting $60-million approved by the state Legislature for a tax sales rebate. The rebate would be $2-million a year for 30 years.
Gelbar says he hasnâ€™t supported such a plan for his own hometown team, the Florida Marlins, and he has no plans to get behind such a proposal for Tampa Bayâ€™s Major League franchise.
On Sunday, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the constitutional property tax cut plan approved by the L:egislature last month, would get 53 percent support, according a poll conducted last week. Thatâ€™s a majority, but not the 60 percent required to have the measure pass.
Gelbar says he thinks what came out of the last special session was a mess when it comes to property taxes, and he hopes the measure is defeated.
Weâ€™ll air excerpts from a speech he gave in Tampa today at the Democratic Professionals Council meeting later this week on the Evening News.