PRE-K AMENDMENT - Mitch Perry

03/09/04

Last week the Miami Herald reported that Lawmakers and lobbyists may be headed for a battle over where the state will house the voluntary universal pre-kindergarten program that was approved by voters as a constitutional amendment in 2002.

Governor Jeb Bush has suggested putting the program under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education....But pre-kindergarten is currently housed with the state's Agency for Workforce Innovation, which manages child care issues.

David Lawrence, a special assistant to Bush on universal pre-kindergarten, told a crowd of early educators in Tallahassee there will be ''a real tussle'' over jurisdiction.

Miami Dade County Mayor Alex Pinellas was the author of the Pre-K Amendment and worked extensively to get the issue passed on the 2002 ballot by nearly 60% of the public. The plan is scheduled to go into effect by the 2005-2006 school year...

He says this is year in the Legislature must actually implement the will of the people, and says, if sufficient amount of funding is not allocated, The Pre-K plan could become a glorified baby sitting program (roll tape#1 o.q."age appropriate education")

Governor Jeb Bush's proposal, l, which mirrors one from a statewide advisory panel, would require at least one teacher in each classroom to have an associate's degree in early childhood education by 2010, and at least one with a bachelor's degree in that area by 2013. It does NOT specify how the state could attract more people to the profession, or support their training.

North Florida State Representative Bev Kilmer is the Chairperson of the House Education K-20 Committee.....She worried aloud about the program last month, saying "It's going to be hard to find people with bachelor's degrees who want to spend 4 hours a day with 4-year-olds."

Miami Dade Mayor and Democratic candidate for Senate Alex Pinellas shares some of Kilmer's views, but says the program needs to be longer than that (roll tape#2 o.q."be required of these teachers")

State Lawmakers expect to have the regulations fully written and approved before the legislative session ends in late April or early May.

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