Comic of the Century (Year) [Month] – OK, Fine, Just Day

I’m feeling vainglorious* about this because, well…

Fuck him. Really. Fuck Rick Scott.

*Look, maybe it doesn’t 100% apply, since this isn’t my comic. I am not being particularly vain. Self-righteous would have sufficed. Or just boastful, or gloating. The real word would be a mix of shame, vindication, zeal, patriotism, joy and underlying fear. I’ll leave it to the German language to concoct something for that because we English-speakers are as of yet unfamiliar with the full extent of those sentiments (or of any sentiments, really).


That Sinking Feeling

Gov. Scott has just unleashed the local voter purge leading up to the national election this fall. Among the victims – Bill Internicola:

The World War II Army veteran and lifelong Democrat was given 30 days to prove his citizenship or be stricken from the rolls. The letter he received was one of 2,600 sent to voters throughout the state in recent weeks, to keep non-citizens from participating in elections.

The partisan bickering underscores the tense political atmosphere of a presidential election year in Florida. Though, 2,600 voters doesn’t seem like a lot, the 2000 contest between George W. Bushand Al Gore was decided by 537 votes, a bit of history noted by the congressmen Tuesday and by Sen. Nelson in his letter.

And with presidential politics heating up, Florida is primed once again to be the center of attention. A Quinnipiac Poll released last week gave GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney a six point lead over President Barack Obama.

Reports elsewhere indicate among those purges for “non-citizen” issues or listed as deceased, between 5 and 15 percent in some places are actually that – dead or legitimately not legally able to vote.


What If they Didn’t…?

In Pinellas county, the high school graduation rate is somewhere less than 50 percent. Statewide, that number is comparably depressing. Less than half of students ever make it out of high school with a diploma. Florida also does not compare well nationally. For as long as I can remember, Florida has ranked in the bottom ten of the nation’s schools in terms of putting out top quality education – you know, the chart always topped by Massachusetts and bottomed by Louisiana or Mississippi. So I find myself, in response to the below quote from the Sunday column on this issue:

“We run the risk of telling kids, ‘You’ve gone to school X amount of years, and you didn’t learn anything.’ That’s a scary thought,” Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes said.

What if they didn’t? Learn anything, I mean. What if the average Floridian student is not suitibly prepared for college? Or ready to enter the ever increasingly STEM-dependent workforce? I find myself concluding: they aren’t – I certainly wasn’t – and last week’s retreat from owning this failure proves the state’s students will continue to exit school utterly unprepared.

So let’s run away from owning it and adjust what “passing” means. It echoes our contemporaries at the bottom of the nation’s educational totem pole. Let’s embrace our fine Southern exemplars on the Mississippi river. Let’s eviscerate education funding and redefine success ever lower.


Florida as National Embarassment

Passing rates for the writing portion of the FCAT plummeted over the last year. Fourth grade passing rates fell from 81 percent last year to 27 percent this year. A score of 4.0 out of 6.0 is a passing grade. These results were reflected in 8th and 10th grade writing scores as well.

Governor Scott weighed in with this powerful delegation of responsibility:

The significant contrast in this year’s writing scores is an obvious indication that the Department of Education needs to review the issue and recommend an action plan so that our schools, parents, teachers and students have a clear understanding of the results.

The education comissioner fired back in kind by suggesting dropping passing standards from 4.0 to 3.5…

Under that standard, 48 percent of fourth-graders would have passed the test with a 3.5 or better, along with 52 percent of eighth-graders and 60 percent of 10th-graders

At this point, the level of despair and cynicism welled up within both parties and they pulled open that special desk drawer containing a loaded handgun, wherein they stared lovingly at the sleek gun metal and considered their ownership of cuts to state education and the immediate repercussions regarding said cuts, which coupled with lowering standards to ultimately pass only about half of students spelled out clearly that Florida failed hard at attempts to raise standards while cutting funding and paying only lip service to meaningful efforts to raise Florida out of the dregs of the educational swamp shared by the likes of Lousiana or Mississippi. Floridians know well what it means to teach to the test. It means whole sections of normal classwork are abandoned specifically to teach what it takes to pass the FCAT. If, at the end of abandoning useful, non-test specific, liberal arts, science and mathematics education in order to pass the FCAT yields only a 27 percent passing rate…

Cue shame.

Welcome to Florida.


How scoring changed

Scoring of the FCAT 2.0 Writing test was tougher this year:

• Two scorers evaluated each test, something the state had eliminated as a cost-saving measure.

• Scoring was more stringent on basics of standard English such as punctuation and grammar.

• More attention was paid to the quality of details, word choice, specificity, relevance and thoroughness. Bad: Rote memorization or overuse of techniques like rhetorical questions.

• How often a student misspelled commonly used words had more impact than if a student took a risk by misspelling a word not commonly used at his grade level. Ex: a fourth-grader who spells misspells rhinoceros.

UF – USF: How Do You Feel About a $300,000,000 Cut?

Florida’s Asshole-in-Chief does it again. And all the while claiming he’s actually a good governor on education issues.

Making ends meet in the face of a $1.2 billion budget shortfall this year, on top of an even larger, $3.7 billion shortfall from last year was not an easy task, while still finding a way to pour more than a billion additional dollars* into our schools. But we must also look over the horizon, by spending the money it takes now to make Florida one of the most attractive labor markets in the nation. We accomplish this by investing in high-quality education, raising education standards and rewarding good teachers and the quality student outcomes they consistently produce. (originally from the Orlando Sentinel)

What a fucking riot.

*After Scott had cut 1.3 billion the previous year. That’s right. You got it. He cut the budget by 1.3 billion last year and is patting himself on the back for giving 1 billion back.


Surplus Rick

There was a big hullabaloo a few months ago because miraculously Rick Scott had secured a surplus. A statement even PolitiFact rated as half-true. No seriously. The link has facts. Click it. Cause wait for it. Hold your ears as you read this because Scanners-quality head explosions follow this sentence.

State economists now predict a $1.5 billion shortfall in revenue, after predictions for revenue fell short by $600 million. They also mention that the $1.2 billion surplus predicted in March erred by $968.3 million.

Lawmakers also turned away billions in federal transportation and health care money, and tried to boost the economy by including $70 million in tax incentives for the new Department of Economic Opportunity and $25 million for a three-day sales-tax holiday for back-to-school supplies in August.

But the tax breaks and attempts at austerity couldn’t stop the decline in revenues in every area of state government as the pace of the housing and employment recovery “has significantly slowed.”


Florida’s Slightly Better Asshole in Chief

 Scott’s approval rating breaks down like this: 35 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove. He has a 7 percent approval among black voters and 29 percent among voters ages 35 to 54.

Scott’s approval rating, however, does surpass the Legislature’s. Just 32 percent approve of the job the Republican-controlled House and Senate has performed.

These numbers are part of a Quinnipiac poll that found Scott’s popularity rose slightly. Gov. Rick Scott’s now at 35 percent, up “6 points since May”.

“This is the highest ‘dislike’ seen in any state surveyed by Quinnipiac University this year,” according to the university’s press release. “Voters tend to like their governor, even when they disapprove of the job he or she is doing. Florida voters like President Barack Obama as a person 69 – 18 percent, but disapprove 51 – 44 percent of the job he is doing.”


Business at any Cost

State regulators set the clock back on energy conservation in Florida on Tuesday by reversing a rule that would have required Progress Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light to encourage customers to use less electricity.

The commission’s decision to roll back conservation programs follows the wishes of Gov. Rick Scott, whose staff recently weighed in on the energy debate. At a meeting of electric company lobbyists and energy industry representatives in late June, the governor’s former policy director, Mary Anne Carter, said the governor wanted the state to soften the energy efficiency goals to lower the cost of electricity in Florida to attract new business.


A Tale of Two Rails

Of course, the main reason Scott got behind this rail package was fear or litigated failure:

He said his attorneys told him he would likely lose in court if he was sued for killing the $1.28 billion, 61.5-mile project.

Unlike the Federally funded, Obama-offered chunk of cash for the proposed and now aborted Tampa-Orlando line.

Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, a champion of high-speed rail and critic of SunRail, decried Scott’s decision…

“It is unclear if when making the decision the governor had a change of heart, if he simply succumbed to the desires of the big money special interests, or if he has a severe case of amnesia and thought that he was supposed to be representing CSX instead of Florida’s taxpayers,” she said. “When the SunRail/CSX commuter project is viewed from a purely business vantage point, the project falls so far below what a savvy business owner would accept that it is somewhat baffling.”


The Florida GOP Liturgy: Get Sad Everyone

The St. Pete Times lists some of the changes that are making Florida a less desirable place to live. Vote for your favorites!:

• A women seeking an abortion will be required to pay for an ultrasound even if she doesn’t want one.

• Parents in the 50,000 poor Florida families who qualify for temporary federal assistance will be forced to pay for drug tests before the family receives an average $240 a month in benefits. Those who test negative will be re­imbursed eventually.

• Nursing home residents will likely see smaller staffs to watch over them, as the state rolled back requirements on staffing levels under Medicaid.

The take-away:

Scott won’t be on the ballot for more than three years, but every state legislative seat will be on the ballot next year.

Source (Check out the rest of the awesome changes! Wheee.)

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