AMAC has come a long way since its founding in 2007 with two members, co-founders Dan and Judy Weber. With over 2.3 million members, our strong and growing, member driven organization lobbies on many issues pertinent to mature Americans at the federal level and increasingly in the 50 state legislatures as well. But we are also being asked to attend many important events by important elected officials.
So it was Tuesday April 19th in The Villages, Florida, site of the world’s largest retirement community and next door to three local AMAC offices. The Office of Governor Ron DeSantis asked AMAC to bring as many members to a bill signing ceremony as possible. With just over 12 hours’ advance notice, we succeeded in getting 35 members and professional staff to hear the Governor speak about Higher Education Reform and sign Senate Bill 7044.
What does higher education have to do with issues important to seniors, and why The Villages? As almost any parent or grandparent will tell you, they want the very best education for their children and grandchildren. Governor DeSantis proudly proclaimed how Florida is now ranked #1 for higher education by U.S. News and World Report and that the University of Florida was recently named a top five public university, tied with good company, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
After reminding attendees they were in the free and open state of Florida, Governor DeSantis noted that college is not, nor should be, mandated as the path for everyone. Students must assess their own abilities and interests as they depart high school. He noted a number of trade professions that are in demand where young people can earn a great living. Walmart is seeking truck drivers and is paying six figure salaries to land them.
The Governor noted some of the issues of political indoctrination in some classes and the “job for life” tenure that university professors have become accustomed to. In fact, Senate Bill 7044, which theGovernor signed at today’s event, requires a post-tenure review every five years for each tenured state university faculty member. The bill also creates transparency of instructional materials and student fees, meaning no more surprise billing for students and parents. Further, there is no more getting a syllabus a quarter of the way through a course only to find out it’s really about the benefits of socialism and communism, DeSantis said to many laughs among the audience and assembled students behind him.
Though not the subject of this bill, the Governor reminded the many senior citizens in the audience that there is a path for their grandchildren to attend Florida’s public colleges and universities. Children are eligible to pay the lower in-state tuition if they have grandparents domiciled in the state which had the audience erupt into applause.
AMAC was proud to assemble an audience and to attend this important bill signing by Governor Ron DeSantis. Additional speakers included Florida’s Speaker of the House, the Senate President, and the Commissioner of Education, among others. Florida has been an attractive place to live and to do business for some time with its good climate and zero income tax. But under the leadership of this governor and the state legislature it is beginning to lead the nation in a great many areas from education to election integrity and more.
Lastly, it is noteworthy that each of the four major networks in the Orlando metro sent a news crew to the event. The Governor is popular and well liked in Florida, and he is a rising star nationwide. What he says and does continues to make news near daily.
Jeff Szymanski works in political communications at AMAC, a senior benefits organization with 2.3 million members. His background is in education, having previously taught high school social studies for 15 years and himself the product of two state university systems.