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Research needed before voting

In his annual state address Tuesday, Gov. Jeb Bush asked voters to consider repealing two amendments that are straining Florida’s budget. The class size amendment and the high-speed rail amendment, he said, were passed because voters “did not make this decision based on all the information that they are now going to have.”

Bush would need a three-fourths vote to put either amendment back on the ballot in a special election this year, said a Lakeland Ledger report. If the opportunity does come for voters to change their minds, hopefully the next time around, they’ll fully research what it is they’re voting for.

If people had taken the time to research the class size amendment before voting in favor of it, they may have been surprised by what they found. One visit to the Department of Education’s Web site, and a few minutes comparing school grades with their average class sizes, shows the two have a very loose relationship.

In fact, the Hillsborough County elementary school with the lowest class size for the 2002 school year, Oak Park with an average of 18.2 students per class, received a D as a grade for the year.

Furthermore, with one of the highest class size averages at 26.6, Claywell Elementary School in Hillsborough received an A grade last year.

This data proves smaller class sizes haven’t been entirely beneficial. However, the state is facing almost $150 million dollars in cutbacks because voters passed the amendment. Bush warned it would be costly, cut voters didn’t understand how much it would cost.

Possibly a better way to improve schools would be to update schools’ libraries and give them funding to improve. If the students are learning from outdated books they won’t be getting a good education, regardless of how small the class is.

Before voting for or against an amendment in the future, it would be wise for all voters to better research both sides of the topic. Then, they can accurately compare the ramifications and benefits.