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By Florence Brainerd, FRA Legislative Advocate

September 2000


The new century elections will bring to the Capitol 21 new senators and 120 new representatives, unless a small number of incumbents win their same seats. In other words, 141 legislative seats are up for grabs, and grabbing it is. In fact, 8 senators and 14 representatives have won without opposition; 12 representatives were decided in the primary; one representative will show in the runoff; and, 13 senators and 93 representatives will be decided in the general election in November.

At the State Cabinet level, Education Commissioner Tom Gallagher is vacating his seat to run for Insurance Commissioner, inviting a contest between former Charlie Crist and George Sheldon for the top education job.

Legislators elected for the 2001 Session will begin working on reapportionment of the state voting districts. Reapportionment to be completed in 2002 will control the shape of Florida politics for decades to come.


At the October conference, the Governmental Relations Committee will present the two contenders for Education Commissioner, former Senator Charlie Crist (R), and former Representative George Sheldon (D). The candidates will be presented at the morning General Session on Friday, October13, and afterwards, join the Legislative Breakout Session attendees to answer questions about their candidacy.

Interestingly, both candidates are attorneys who have worked in and for the government for years. Although neither has taught in the classroom, both have contributed in legislature leadership roles to the learning environment and institution – Crist sponsoring education legislation, and Sheldon supporting and lobbying education issues.

Charlie Crist is a supporter of:

Charter Schools Teacher Salary Increases

Arts in Education Bright Future Scholarships

Smaller class sizes for elementary students Increased funding each year for Education

Merit Pay for Teachers

George Sheldon supports:

Jump Start – Pre-K to Boost Readiness Bonuses to Teach Troubled Schools

Smaller Class Size in Grades 1-3 Safe Schools

Suspension of Disruptive Students Expanding School Resource Officer Programs

Alternative Schools Parent-Teacher Contracts/Accountability


Pre-session education issues are nil at this time. With new leadership in the House, Senate, and DOE, very little is going on except oversight of previous projects. The Governor’s education policies are in the developmental phase and are not ready for publication. So, all is well and quiet on the hill for now.


The Governor and the Cabinet of the State of Florida designated the month of September as Florida Literacy Month with special recognition of Friday, September 8, 2000 as International Literacy Day.