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Crist appeals to teachers, blasts Scott's record on education

Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist plans to make education the focus of his campaign, he said Monday.

To make his point, the Republican turned Democrat held a roundtable discussion with teachers in Tallahassee on Monday -– and then asked one of them to deliver his qualifying paperwork to the Florida Department of State.

"What this campaign is going to be about, first and foremost, is making sure we have someone in the governor's mansion [who] understands how precious education is and how important it is to honor our teachers and not demoralize the heck out of them," Crist said.

The thirteen teachers who attended the roundtable hailed mostly from the Florida Panhandle. They opened the conversation by thanking Crist for his veto of a controversial teacher performance pay bill in 2010.

Crist called it "an honor" to veto the proposal, SB 6 in the 2010 session.

"It was exciting," he said. "It got unexciting because the next year, Rick Scott signed the bill. But we are going to undo it."

Repealing the law would be a heavy lift. The Republican-dominated legislature has been supportive of performance pay for teachers, as have influential think tanks. But Crist said he would have bargaining power after winning office.

"If we win, they will consider things because I will have a [veto] pen again," he said.

Later, Crist blasted the turnover at the state Department of Education. "It's like a revolving door of idiocy," he said. 

He also accused Scott of spending too little on education given the recent surplus.

The budget Scott recently inked sets aside $18.9 billion for education, the largest amount in state history. But the per-pupil funding level, $6,937, still falls short of the $7,126 spent per student in 2007-08.

"He talks about jobs all the time," Crist said of his opponent. "But he won’t lay the groundwork so people can get them."

Scott's campaign was quick to fire back.

"Most of us realize that no matter how many times you repeat a lie, you can’t make it true," campaign spokesman Greg Blair said in a statement. "Not Charlie Crist. The unfortunate truth for him is that he left K-12 schools in a worse financial position than when he entered office while Gov. Scott has provided record funding for schools and $480 million for teacher pay raises."

Blair added: "At this rate, Charlie Crist will soon try to convince Floridians that the earth is flat."

Crist has already won the endorsement of the Florida Education Association, the state teachers union.

Arecia Shelton, a guidance counselor at Fairview Middle in Leon County, said she would rally her colleagues to support Crist's bid for governor.

"You earned the respect of teachers," she told him Monday.


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Highly paid Republican operative

Flat earth society!

ed jenkins

The citizens find this to be totally inappropriate for someone not a member of their school board to be associating with teachers over issues related to employment or compensation and want this scumbag crist prosecuted for this criminal behavior. The citizens not want their political leaders trying to win over the favor of teachers since they are employees of the state. The only thing that should be going on with these teachers is that they should be trying to please the citizens through good job performance.

Bill Thompson

The scumbag Scott and his cronies wouldn't know the truth if it hit him square on his bald head. What a desperate negative campaign they are running, as the citizens can see from this horrible man's attack dogs. His failing campaign has already spent millions of dollars and is just barely hanging on. He should learn the lesson of Eric Cantor that all the money and all the power can't buy you re-election when you are morally and ethically bankrupt.

Highly paid Republican operative

You tell em D!

Bill Thompson

The scumbag Scott's whole failing campaign is a house of cards built on lies, flip-flops and negative attacks and will crumble just as Eric Cantor's did.

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