Tags: 2014 Midterm Elections | Florida | governor | 2014 | education

Florida Gov. Scott, Challenger Crist Spar Over Education

Image: Florida Gov. Scott, Challenger Crist Spar Over Education Charlie Christ, left, and Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Monday, 07 Jul 2014 01:43 PM

By John Blosser

The Florida's governor race between incumbent Republican Rick Scott and newly mined Democrat Charlie Crist is focusing on education, The Miami Herald reported.

TV campaign ads tell the story. Crist is aiming his appeal at, and featuring, teachers, counting on their anger over 2011 state-imposed teacher evaluations to bolster his campaign, while Scott’s softer campaign ads target parents, including the current governor with his wife and children.

"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 told the Herald.

Crist has won the endorsement of the Florida Education Association, the teacher’s union, an endorsement he lacked during his run for governor in 2006. Since that time, the FEA has filed suit against Education Commissioner Tony Bennett and the Department of Education in a dispute over teacher evaluations.

Meanwhile, Scott, who cut the statewide education budget by $1.3 billion in his first year, only to later restore it, has blasted Crist’s performance as governor in TV ads stating that he "allowed college tuition to increase up to 15 percent every year."

Crist seems to have the lead among voters concerned with education, according to a January Quinnipiac University poll, which found that voters approved Christ over Scott on education by 49 percent to 35 percent and Crist to be leading Scott by 46 percent to 38 percent overall.

Scott has said that the current state education budget is the largest in the history of Florida, but his opponents reply that the state spent more money per student during Crist’s term as governor.

Scott has blasted Crist for laying off 3,000 teachers but PolitiFact Florida challenged that assertion, and Crist countered about Scott in a speech to teachers, "He talks about jobs all the time, but he won’t lay the groundwork so people can get them."

Both men hammer each other on cutting back Florida’s Bright Futures merit scholarships, but PolitiFact Florida declared that a wash, noting that both Scott and Crist raised eligibility requirements and, thus, cut back on the number of students eligible for scholarships.

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