Monday, September 07, 2015

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

"Florida workers stuck in low-paying jobs"

"Florida's wage gap has significantly widened since the Great Recession as a growing share of workers became stuck in low-paying jobs, a research team at Florida International University concluded in a report released Sunday." "Labor Day Report: More Florida workers stuck in low-paying jobs".

The University's, Center for Labor Research & Studies report, "The State of Working Florida 2015," shows that "existing wage and income inequalities in Florida were exacerbated by the economic recovery following the Great Recession."

When comparing the wage gap between the top and bottom deciles, 10th percentiles, of wage earners, data shows that inequality has been increasing over the last 35 years. Data indicates that high wage workers have absorbed most of the economic gains since 1980 while low-­‐‑wage workers have been marginalized.

Furthermore, the economic expansion experienced after the great recession of 2007 has been characterized by unprecedented gains in the financial market and a much softer rebound in the labor market. The disparity between the economic gains of the top and bottom 10 percent of wage and income earners during this time has had a corrosive effect on the quality of life and standard of living of Floridians.

Additionally, the growing gap between the top and the bottom has weakened upper social mobility opportunities. Large employing but low-­‐‑paying industries and occupations play a large role in the stagnation of general wages and in increasing inequality between Floridians.

"The State of Working Florida 2015 (.pdf)."

These conclusions are consistent with the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, Condition of Florida by the Numbers Issue Brief,

"Florida continues to rank below most other states in many measures of the well-being of its residents, including state government expenditures for services. Even though state revenues are growing, so are the needs. The funds available to invest in meeting those needs have been reduced by continued annual tax reductions totaling almost $1.5 billion over the past three years."
"Condition of Florida by the Numbers Issue Brief (.pdf)."

And then there's Orlando: "Orlando: No. 1 in tourism and dead last in wages."

"What could possibly go wrong?"

Carl Hiaasen: "What's the point of saving a native creature from extinction if we can't start shooting the darn things again?"

That's the unspoken philosophy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which after two decades of protecting the black bear has decided the time has come to open fire.

Despite a loud public outcry, the panel approved a one-week hunt for the last week of October. Because there's no limit on the number of permits being issued, the chances are good that the hunters will actually outnumber the bears. What could possibly go wrong?

"Saving black bears so hunters can kill them."

Using state money to help private schools

Joe Henderson: Miami Republican Rep. Erik Fresen, who "chairs the education appropriations subcommittee, is behind a $44 million fund to reward the state’s top teachers with bonuses of up to $10,000."

When they apply for the bonus, they have to include proof that their ACT or SAT scores from high school were in at least the 80th percentile. Those are the scores colleges use to help determine if you are admitted.
"Fresen flatly stated ACT and SAT scores are good predictors of future job success. Numerous studies say experience is a better predictor of effectiveness."
Fresen has been a champion of charter schools for years. He was behind a move that diverted millions of public school construction dollars to private charter schools. His brother-in-law runs Academia, Florida’s largest charter-school management firm.

Under this program, teachers with little or no experience, but with the magic number on test scores, can apply for the bonus. That’s true even if they have never taught in Florida and don’t have that “highly effective” rating. Critics say that’s using state money to help private schools attract younger, less expensive teachers.

"No one is saying that these bonuses should be handed out like candy canes, but this is flat out crazy."
It’s another affront from a politician who thinks he knows the business of teaching better than the professionals who actually do the job. If Erik Fresen wants to know what a future predictor of success really looks like, he should spend a few days inside a public school classroom and see the “highly effective” work real educators do.

Oh, and as long as we’re at it, he also should disclose his ACT or SAT scores. Seems only fair.

"More stupid legislative tricks translates to more hoops for teachers."