Fighting for What’s Right

There is a vision for what should be and could be.  Community schools.  These are schools that draw families in.  They include pre school education and after school care.  They offer help to families in need and work together to give children the options best suited for them.  They do not divide communities.  They build communities where all children feel welcome.

This is a different mindset than the current school choice policy.  School choice encourages parents to find  schools like them.  Communities splinter.  Schools become more segregated, and students more isolated from the world in which they live.  Students aren’t taught to be good citizens; they are taught, by example to seek advantage for themselves at the expense of everyone else.  It’s all about competition.  Or is it?  See: Public Loss; Private Gain.  How School Vouchers Undermine Public Education.

The wealthy pose as benefactors while they reap profits from double dipping tax benefits for their donations to privately run schools. (See May 18 New York Times).  This does not make better schools.  It makes opportunistic schools.

Our schools have shaped our democracy.  They are splintering because our social fabric is splintering.  There are those who mine that division for their own benefit.  This does not have to happen.  We can organize our communities around our schools.  We can make our schools serve our needs.  It is up to us.

Where do we start?  Find out what a community school could be and should be.  Read about it here.  Look at schools in your community.  Ask how they measure up.  The Children’s Home Society has started some in Florida.  Howard Bishop middle school in Gainesville has started in that direction.

If school choice is about competition, then let’s compete to provide the best and most inclusive educational system.

 

Scott Facing Increasing Pressure: Have you called yet?

The Florida News Service reports the mounting pressure on Governor Scott to veto HB 7069 and part of the State budget. We need to keep the pressure up.  Call his office and send a message:

  • (850) 488-7146

  • Email http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/  (Note that emails become public record.)

Tell the Governor that:

  • The budget results in a net loss for many school districts.
  • Sharing capital outlay funds with charters is not cost effective.  Many small schools increase facility costs and decrease needed maintenance.
  • Charter take over of public schools solves nothing.  Charter students in five of seven Florida cities do worse than similar students in public schools.

The Senate proposal for education was a practical, reasonable approach to education funding.  Ask the Governor to reconvene the legislature and do what is needed.

 

A Lesson in Advocacy from California: Money and People Power

Money and people power in California are shifting the balance of influence in the California legislature. For years, the legislature listened closely to the public school interests.  Teachers, parents and unions wielded great power.  Now the charter sector is gaining ground.  In 2016, a bill to regulate charter enrollment and how they discipline students was assured of passing; it did not.  In this account, the advocacy strategies explain the defeat.

 

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HOLD THE DATE: March for Public Education July 22

A national march/rally for public education is being organized in Washington D.C. on July 22th.  Sister marches will be held across the country.  We will organize one in Alachua County.  I hope each of you will reach out to do something in your area.

The organizers are teachers, counselors, and others supporting public education.  This is just getting organized.  See the plans below:

 

Information on the July 22nd DC March for Public Education from the Facebook event.  This is not a Women’s March-approved event…yet.

CALL TO ACTION – 4/27/17 – 5/4/17 MARCH FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION SHARE INITIATIVE

We were there for the Women’s March, we marched for Science, NOW it is time to March for Public Education. Right now we have THREE months from our date for the July march. We wanted to let you know that we have contacted the National Parks Service regarding our march and have completed the permit for a march on the National Mall in Washington D.C.

One important detail that remains, however, is WHO will attend. That is a detail that we cannot complete without YOU. I truly believe the next national march should be about public education, and now is the time to begin to make that happen. We need to share this GROUP and EVENT with as many people as possible right now. We are the only group, as far as we know, planning to bring a national march for public education this year.

So, for this SHARE INITIATIVE we have THREE big asks:


1) SHARE & SIGN UP FOR THE EVENT
We have selected the date! Please share this event and sign up if you can make it! Here is the link:
2) ORGANIZE
WE NEED YOUR HELP! While the leadership team has worked hard to establish connections with allies, create content such as videos and inform on legislation, we are ready to branch out and expand our team. If you are interested in joining our team to expand our social media presence or host a satellite march, we need to hear from you this week.
3) ADD NEW MEMBERS

The Worst of a Bad Budget

The League is adding its voice to calls for a veto of HB 7069.  Share with everyone.  We need a blitz.

The WORST of a BAD BUDGET

Florida revenue is up, but education funding has been cut.  The legislature sent a message that our schools, teachers, and students are not valued.  What’s the evidence?

House bill HB 7069:

 

 

 

 

  • Substitutes a teacher bonus system for a few rather than give all teachers a needed raise in spite of a looming teacher shortage. Teachers in most charters have lower salaries and no benefits which seems to be the attraction to many politicians even if quality is compromised.
  • Takes desperately needed local school facility funding and gives it to privately owned charters. Miami-Dade schools alone estimate an $81 million dollar loss.
  • Strips local control of low performing schools from districts and turns them over to charter chains. Then, it provides $140 million in State funds to these privately owned chains.
  • Creates High Impact Charter Systems that are independent of locally elected school boards. If things go wrong, parents must complain to Tallahassee.

The Florida House promotes school choice instead of supporting schools governed by elected school boards.  The consequences are becoming clear.  The U.S. Department of Civil Rights cited Florida for increasing segregation through its charter system.  Charters also select fewer students with disabilities and language learners.

It is time to recognize that, in the charter system, parents do not choose schools; schools choose students.  If the choice does not work, the students are ‘counseled out’.

Charters have high teacher turnover, real estate debt, and according to the national CREDO Urban Cities study, lower student achievement than comparable public school students.  After three years, Florida public school students, initially matched on test scores, clearly out performed charter students in five of seven of our cities.

Parents do have a choice to make.  Will they ask Governor Scott to veto this attempt to take over our schools?  Will they tell the legislature that our children deserve better?

Right These Wrongs, The League Says

Governor Scott is considering vetoing the entire budget as well as HB 7069, the massive education bill.  Encourage him!  (850) 488-7146.   The Miami Herald published the League call to action.

The budget:

 

 

 

  • reduces per student funding.
  • shares capital outlay with charters.  Charters already get a disproportionate amount of available state capital outlay money.  Many districts would be unable to maintain roofs and air conditioning.
  • creates Schools of Hope which are charter take overs of district schools.  The bill is acknowledged to be difficult to implement.  It gives money to struggling schools after charters take them over, not before when districts could do something to help.

Charters in Florida are not known to do as well as public schools, according to the latest CREDO Urban Cities report.  Over three years in four of six major Florida cities, public school students outperform students matched on initial achievement scores.

High performing charters in other states are known to have student high attrition.  Students who do not do well are ‘counseled out’.  Forty percent of black males leave KIPP schools between grades six and eight, according to a 2017 Ed Week report

What is the advantage of dismissing nearly half of your students?  This is the turn around Schools of Hope.  Give the funding to districts and help them succeed.  They are OUR schools.

League Calls For Budget Veto: You can too!

Choruses of voices are calling ‘foul’ on this year’s legislative budget.  The League of Women Voters sent a letter to Governor Scott detailing the savaging of public schools and the back room approach to doing so.  Short shrift for Florida Forever as well makes this budget an agenda driven attack on the public interest.  Want to call his office?  Use:  (850) 717-9337.

See the letter written by Pamela Goodman.  The announcement was made in yesterday’s Capital Report.