Charlie Crist on Education



Supports charter schools and standardized testing

[As State Education Commissioner,] I got some solid support in the governor's office. Jeb Bush had made education reform a top priority of his administration. We both wanted results. Jeb was pushing charter schools and standardized testing, concepts I generally supported. I was working on making teachers more accountable and getting the good ones paid well. Working together, we made some genuine progress. Reading scores improved. Parents got more choices about the schools their children attended. The legislature got a little less stingy about paying the bills.
Source: The Party's Over, by Charlie Crist, p. 53 , Feb 4, 2014

Some public school teachers should earn $100,000

[As Education Commissioner of Florida], some of my fellow Republicans thought I pushed the cause of public education too hard. "Some teachers in our school systems should earn $100,000 a year," I said one day, unapologetically.

"The teachers' unions aren't exactly friends of ours," I was reminded more than once. "Republicans are more interested in private and religious schools."

None of this seemed complicated to me. If we wanted good teachers, we should pay them decently. When it came to public education, I had the benefit of personal experience. My 3 sisters and I all went to public schools. Two of my sisters became educators. My mom and dad both went to Penn State. I'd finished college at Florida State. I always have--and always will--fight for public education.

Source: The Party's Over, by Charlie Crist, p. 53 , Feb 4, 2014

National testing mostly favors for-profit testing firms

Senate Bill 6 was loaded down with amendments from extreme-conservative legislators who didn't seem to like the whole idea of public schools. The tone of the bill began to shift from rewarding teachers to punishing them.

The Republican legislators probably should have renamed it the Teacher Punishment Act. That would have been a whole lot closer to what the bill's conservative backers really had in mind.

Newer teachers could be fired for any cause or no cause at all. Local school systems were forbidden from paying teachers based on their experience or advanced degrees. The bill took away a teacher's incentive to earn National Board Certification. And it raised a rash of extra complications for Special-Ed teachers.

There was one other wrinkle that seemed relevant to me. The people who really stood to make out here were the for-profit, national testing firms. If Senate Bill 6 became law, they could expect some fat new Florida contracts.

Source: The Party's Over, by Charlie Crist, p.223-225 , Feb 4, 2014

Vetoed merit-based pay for teachers

Rubio, who tangled so frequently with Crist in Tallahassee, knew that the governor also had other liabilities. Crist had vetoed merit-based pay for teachers, a favorite item of conservatives who railed against teachers unions and accused them of coddling underperforming educators.
Source: The Rise of Marco Rubio, by Manuel Rogi-Franzia, p.142 , Jun 19, 2012

School choice gives kids the best chance for success

In March 2010, 5,500 school-choice supporters marched in Florida to demand more choice in education. Not bad, even by Tea Party standards. Florida's then-governor, Charlie Crist--who was seeking a new mandate as a US senator--saw the powerful winds of change and choice that were sweeping through Florida and decided to join the march and speak at the rally. During his remarks, Governor Crist emphasized the importance of school choice that "provides parents an invaluable opportunity to choose a learning environment that gives children the best chance for success."
Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p.136 , Feb 14, 2012

OpEd: Vetoed merit pay & ending tenure for political points

Schools should adopt merit programs, which would make the teaching profession more competitive and thus attract better candidates. Merit pay at every school in the country would create a system superior overall to what we have now. We hear all this agonizing about the criteria for merit pay, about the difficulty of deciding who deserves more. The truth is that principals know who their best teachers are. Teachers themselves know who the best teachers in their school are, as do the children and thei parents.

Of course, it is not easy to establish merit pay and abolish tenure. Take Florida, where the legislature passed both reforms but they fell victim to Gov. Charlie Christ's political ambitions. Having changed his political affiliation to Independent from Republican, he vetoed the bill as part of his strategy of moving leftward to try to win a Senate seat in 2010. But at the end of the day, we need to ask ourselves, who loses when we don't educate our children? Everyone.

Source: A Simple Government, by Mike Huckabee, p. 97-98 , Feb 22, 2011

As Commissioner of Educ., implemented school accountability

Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Charlie as Deputy Secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. In 2000, he won a special election and became Florida's last elected Commissioner of Education, where he worked to implement reforms in school accountability and direct more resources into Florida classrooms.
Source: 2010 Senate campaign website, www.charliecrist.com, "Issues" , Dec 25, 2009

Father served on the Pinellas County School Board

Charlie Crist was born in 1956 in Altoona, Pennsylvania, but the family soon settled in St. Petersburg, where his father is a respected family physician. Charlie learned the importance of public service from an early age, beginning with his father's tenure on the Pinellas County School Board. As a public school student Charlie quickly learned the value of participation, leading him to serve as class president at St. Petersburg High School and, later, as student body vice president at Florida State University.

His leadership qualities carried into other pursuits. He was the starting quarterback in high school and played at Wake Forest University before transferring and receiving his undergraduate degree from Florida State in 1978. Charlie then earned his law degree from the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama.

Source: 2010 Senate campaign website, www.charliecrist.com, "Issues" , Dec 25, 2009

Propose $3.8 billion to reduce class size

I have proposed in my budget 3.8 billion dollars to meet the constitutional mandate of the class size amendment. This is a 19% increase over the current budget level and would bring state funding for the last five years to 10.7 billion dollars. Smaller classes provide a better environment for learning and we must fulfill our obligation to provide that funding to reduce class sizes.
Source: 2007 State of the State Address , Mar 6, 2007

Early advocate for parental choice in education

As a State Senator, Charlie was an early advocate for parental choice in education by co-sponsoring legislation to implement the charter schools bill. He believes that parents know best what their children need, and should have the freedom to pick the best schools for their kids.
Source: 2006 Senate campaign website, www.charliecrist.com, “Issues” , Nov 7, 2006

Allow vouchers for any public, private or religious school

Source: Congressional 1998 National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 1998

Constitutional amendment for school prayer

Q: Do you support amending the U.S. Constitution to guarantee the right to religious expression and voluntary prayer in public places, including schools?

A: Yes.

Source: Congressional 1998 National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 1998

Supports vouchers to let parents choose public or private school.

Crist supports the CC survey question on school vouchers

The Christian Coalition Voter Guide inferred whether candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'Education vouchers that allow parents to choose a public or private school for their children' The Christian Coalition notes, "You can help make sure that voters have the facts BEFORE they cast their votes. We have surveyed candidates in the most competitive congressional races on the issues that are important to conservatives."

Source: Christian Coalition Survey 16_CC7 on Nov 8, 2016

Voted YES on private lawsuits for school race discrimination.

Crist voted YEA Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act

Legislative Summary:This bill authorizes private civil causes of action for discrimination on the ground of race, color, or national origin, including anti-Semitism) in programs receiving federal financial assistance.

Trump's Statement of Administration Policy (against): The Administration strongly opposes passage of H.R. 2574. This bill fails to advance equality in education, while expanding bureaucracy, encouraging burdensome litigation, and imposing costs on recipients of Federal financial assistance. H.R. 2574 seeks to validate and expand the divisive regulatory agenda of the previous administration--advancing an ideological mission and enriching favored special interests like trial lawyers at the expense of students, educators, and taxpayers. The bill would require each recipient of Federal financial assistance to appoint a compliance coordinator, which would impose additional administrative burdens. H.R. 2574 would redirect vital resources that are needed to serve students in the pursuit of an ideological agenda.

Rep. Elaine Luria in support: H.R. 2574 would allow private individuals to file lawsuits under the Civil Rights Act's Title VI authority, allowing students and parents to remedy discrimination in education. "Every student has the right to access public education, free from discriminatory practices, said Congresswoman Luria. "By focusing on equity and inclusion, we move towards a public education system that is more just and will benefit every student, regardless of sex, ethnicity, ability, or their zip code."

Legislative outcome:Passed House 232-188-10, roll no. 192 on Sept 16, 2020; died in Senate without a vote.

Source: Congressional vote 20-HR2574 on May 8, 2019

2017-18 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Education: Charlie Crist on other issues:
FL Gubernatorial:
Adam Putnam
Alexander Snitker
Andrew Gillum
Gwen Graham
Philip Levine
Rick Scott
Ron DeSantis
Wayne Messam
FL Senatorial:
Alan Grayson
Bill Nelson
Carlos Lopez-Cantera
David Jolly
Edward Janowski
Marco Rubio
Pam Keith
Patrick Murphy
Rick Scott
Ron DeSantis

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Page last updated: Jan 09, 2021