The Miami-Dade School Board, reduced to unseemly squabbling over the brutal $284 million in budget reductions, are in obvious need of an arbitrator. And the perfect candidate lives just across town.
The school board turned particularly acrimonious over the last $33 million cut, which would eliminate 516 jobs and some of the board members' favorite programs. Board members, teachers, parents are howling. At this point, in the already emaciated budget, any cut is just too unbearable to one constituency or another.
So bring in Marco.
Florida Speaker of the House Marco Rubio, the father of the legislature's no-tax, budget savaging tsunami, should drop by and show the school board a way out of the impasse. It's his mess. He oversaw a budget process that finished up the session by allocating more than $300 million for new prisons while cutting another $300 million from the schools. Which brought the total reduction for education to $2.3 billion. Which meant education took more than half the hits in the legislature's $4 billion reduction frenzy.
Obviously, Marco and the gang in Tallahassee, were aware of the mandate in the Florida Constitution: "The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require."
I'm sure the school board would like to hear Rubio explain how an education allocation fulfills that mandate while cementing Florida's place at the bottom among all states in per student education funding. (Particularly how private school voucher funding meets the criteria for "high quality system of free public schools.)
Rubio can demonstrate a little leadership, explaining which teachers, which education programs aren't worth funding. Which students aren't worth the trouble. Which district workers should get the boot. He should do it, like the board is forced to deal with these matters - in front of the very effected teachers, workers, students, parents, all of them raging, or crying, in the school board meeting room.
Rubio, once he makes that last $33 million disappear from his hometown's schools budget, could travel the state offering his services. Because nearly every school board is facing the same anger and heartbreak. In the last week, boards across the state have been laying off teachers, jettisoning aids, eliminating school cops, summer school, coaches, field trips, school bus drivers, reading specialists.
School boards are catching hell. They could all use his expertise. Let Marco face down the parents and teachers and students and workers who want the board members' heads. He can explain to the angry crowds across the state how dessicated public schools are a good thing for Florida's future.