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PRESS RELEASE

Janurary 11, 2005

Jennifer Fennell or
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Statement From State Board of Education Chairman Phil Handy Regarding Co-Teaching

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush today announced the following appointment and reappointments:

ORLANDO "Continued misrepresentations by the media regarding the State Board of Education and co-teaching have prompted me to reiterate the facts in a formal statement. The State Board of Education has acknowledged the power and effectiveness of co-teaching, particularly within classrooms that mainstream special needs students. Contrary to assertions, the board has never "banned" the practice, but rather, confirmed that it cannot be used as a means of complying with the requirements of the class size amendment as clearly outlined in the Florida Constitution. School districts may still use co-teaching, but it will not count toward their class size calculation beginning next school year.

The plain language of the Florida Constitution states that class size calculations should be based on the number of students per classroom, as well as the number of students per teacher. Simply adding another teacher to an overcrowded classroom does not meet these requirements, nor does it fulfill the spirit and intent of the class size amendment as voters, parents and teachers envisioned it.

District reported data has revealed that the use of co-teaching has more than tripled in the two years since the class size amendment was first implemented. While we understand the hardships school districts face in implementing the class size amendment and reconfirm our commitment to work with districts, we are obligated to faithfully implement it. This is why the State Board of Education has recommended to the Florida Legislature $1.9 billion in capital outlay funds to assist districts in meeting the requirements of the class size amendment."