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Fact-checking candidates on education

Posted: 5:50 AM, Oct 23, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-23 10:57:41Z

Like most issues in the Florida Governor's race, Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum are far apart on their plans for education. 

DeSantis says he has a plan to boost classroom spending while emphasizing career and technical training. 

Gillum wants to raise corporate taxes to fund a $1 billion boost to education spending and raise teacher salaries. 

Every week in October, Fox 4 will partner with FGCU journalism students to fact-check claims in state-wide elections. Already we have worked together to fact-check a DeSantis tweet, a Florida Democrats claim, and a GOP tv ad

Now the class is looking into a mailer the Florida Education Association sent to members about the governor's race. 

Fox 4 Morning News anchor, Chris Shaw, sat down with a small group from the class and encouraged them to first consider the union’s politics. 

On its website , the union endorsed only Democrats for major state-wide elections. In September the union donated $75,000 to the Florida Democratic Party and $100,000 to Forward Florida, a political action committee that supports Gillum. 

The class also noticed some of the language the union used in its mailer. It characterized one of DeSantis’ votes in Congress as “extreme” and said he tried to “slash” support for education. 

The students focused on one claim the union made against DeSantis. It said he voted to cut $1 billion from education. The mailer sources the claim to a Washington Post article from July of 2013.

DeSantis is not mentioned in the article, which is about the US House of Representatives passing the so-called Student Success Act. The bill was written in part to take away some of the power the federal government had over education and give it to state and local governments. 

Then-Congressman DeSantis and nearly every other Republican voted for the bill. The bill called for freezing the federal government’s budget at 2013 sequester-level numbers for education, instead of going through with the planned $1 billion budget increase for the next year.