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Today on Context Florida: Florida House rankings, hostile to science, Big Education, Tax Credit Scholarships and all things crafty

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Today on Context Florida:

Steve Schale offers his state House rankings for May. As you will see, of the 10 races he profiles, there is only one in the Democratic column. One other caveat, however. These rankings are how Schale sees these races today, and much can (and will) change. He is pretty sure if we checked with a group of Republican and Democratic strategists, you’d find consensus that the map will be fought on the Republican Party side this year. Seats are ranked in order of their likelihood to flip from one party to the other, with 10 being the least likely, to 1 being the most likely.

You’d think that a state where they launch rockets into space, a state which houses the world’s most powerful superconducting magnets, a state with several perfectly good universities, would embrace science. Or at least not be so thoroughly hostile to it. But this is Rick Scott’s Florida, says Diane Roberts, where there’s still legislative resistance to teaching evolution (“just a theory!”), the Agency for Healthcare Administration doesn’t understand how doctors determine pregnancy, and climate change is the impending disaster that Dares Not Speak Its Name.

Big Education is a liberal money machine, writes Lloyd Brown. Liberal politicians throw money at the schools, ignoring accountability for the funds, and most of the money goes to teachers. Teacher unions get a cut of that money, and millions of union dollars go to funding political campaigns for liberal politicians. The cycle continues, as it did for decades before school choice came upon the scene.

Jon East argues that the Florida Tax Credit Scholarships benefit 78,000 of Florida’s poorest schoolchildren. The landscape of public education has shifted dramatically in the past generation, as students and their parents choose from all manner of learning options — science and arts-focused schools, career academies, open enrollment, lab schools, magnet schools, International Baccalaureate, gifted academies, charter schools, home education. Last year, more than 1.5 million — or 43 percent of all — pre-K-12 students attended schools they chose. More to the point, 488,000 of those students chose privately operated schools. Of the five programs serving them — charter, McKay, Gardiner, pre-K and tax-credit scholarships — four of them are funded directly from the treasury. The teacher union has sued the only one that isn’t.

Yolanda Hood confesses her addiction to all things colorful, crafty and office supply. She believes there is a reason that she is this way. Hood grew up grew up in a large and loving extended family. None of them had very much money, definitely not money for the whimsical — like felt-covered pencils in a rainbow of colors with a beautiful pointed eraser on top. There you go. That was the fifth-grade fad.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.


Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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