Will Richard Corcoran Replace Pam Stewart?

Politico reports that the new Florida Commissioner of Education is rumored to be former House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Stewart had announced her plans to retire at the end of Governor Scott’s term, but the State Board of Education asked her to remain to ‘groom her successor’. Corcoran pushed for Schools of Hope to replace struggling public schools with charters. He also supported the Hope Scholarships to give students who were bullied Florida tax credit scholarships to private schools. The State Board of Education is already solidly in the pro choice camp, so they likely will rubber stamp this nomination.

A preview of the conservative agenda for education is available from the Florida Citizens Alliance advocacy group. They anticipate that Governor-elect DeSantis will expand choice programs to include vocational programs that focus on apprenticeships, ending proprietary testing, and ending Common Core Standards. (I do not see where DeSantis makes any statement about K12 testing policies.)

Amendment 8 proposals to expand civics education, term limits and centralized charter systems are likely to resurface. DeSantis has made civics education a priority. This is a national priority of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative coalition of legislators. The idea is to focus on concepts that, according to Betsy DeVos, lead young people to support socialism rather than a conservative ideology that is anti-government.

If this agenda succeeds, Florida’s educational system will once again be in turmoil.

Getting to know Manny Diaz: Senate Education Chair

Politico interviewed Senator Diaz about his priorities for education policy. He wants to expand school choice and to review the guardian program that is intended to provide security assistants for schools. The interview also refers to Diaz’s support for a state level charter school institute. Such an institute would centralize the preparation of charter school proposals that must then be authorized by local school boards. This is an idea that has taken many forms over the past several years. It includes advocacy for a High Impact Charter Network to allow charters to expand in new areas without local board approval. Another unstated form was behind the 2018 Amendment 8 constitutional revision proposal that Florida’s Supreme Court took off the ballot. The ballot language referred to state control of schools not established by local school boards. Informed educators would recognize the intent of the language, but voters in general would not. Thus, the proposal was removed from the November 2018 ballot, but it is likely to reappear in some form in the 2019 legislative session.

LWVF Files Lawsuit Over Duval County Schools Gun Policy

Duval County schools want an inexpensive way to have armed guards in schools. They used the school guardian provision of the Florida law to hire ‘safety assistants’. These SSAs will carry concealed weapons in 100 schools in Duval County. The LWVF lawsuit contends that there are better and safer ways to protect schools than to hire armed guards. These guards must be high school graduates with 200 hours of training with the Jacksonville Police Department and the Duval County School Police Department. You can see their qualifications here. These SSAs, however, receive much lower pay than police officers.

Florida Senate Education Leadership Named

So,,,,newly elevated from the Florida House, Manny Diaz will head the Senate Education Policy committee. Vice Chair is Senator Bill Montford D Tallahassee. Diaz was appointed in 2013 by Academica to head Doral College. This is the college that the Miami Herald skewered. It had no students and was created to provide online dual enrollment credit taught by Academica high school teachers. Remember that former Representative Erik Fresen, the brother-in-law of Academica’s CEO and a consultant to Academica, was convicted of tax evasion in 2018 for the eight year he served in the Florida House. We really do not need to have Academica lead educational policy for the state of Florida.

It will be interesting to see how Diaz and Senate Pro Tempore David Simmons will work together. Simmons lost his chairmanship of the education committee last year when he opposed HB 7069. Montford and Simmons are supportive of public school funding. Of course, the House leadership will continue to push school choice. How will any serious review of the impact of choice be conducted?

It is time for a statewide push in support of public schools. To see the other education committee members, click on STATE NEWS.

Florida Twenty Years Later: Social Impact of Privatization

The fourth piece “Twenty Years Later: The SociaI Impact of Privatizaton” covers resegregation and the result of the ‘separate but equal’ philosophy governing school choice. Separate is not equal. You can read it here.

For your convenience, I have included the links to the first three articles below.

The third piece: “Twenty years later: Who Benefits, Not Schools!” covers the impact of choice policies on civil rights, funding, local vs. state control, and accountability. One might ask: Who benefits in a system that generates so much conflict? Politicians and profiteers, but not the public may well be the answer. Read it here.

Here is Part 2 of the series I did for Diane Ravitch on where the lack of common rules governing charter and private schools leads. The simple answer is profiteering, corruption and charter school closures.

The first post “Florida Twenty Years Later: Undermining Public Schools” covers the false assumptions behind the choice movement i.e. choice saves money and spurs innovation. What really has happened the last twenty years to school facilities, teachers, and the learning process that demonstrate Florida schools are nearing a crisis? You can read it here.

Florida Twenty Years Later: Profits, Corruption, Closure

Here is Part 2 of the series I did for Diane Ravitch on where the lack of common rules governing charter and private schools leads. The simple answer is profiteering, corruption and charter school closures.

The first post “Florida Twenty Years Later: Undermining Public Schools” covers the false assumptions behind the choice movement i.e. choice saves money and spurs innovation. What really has happened the last twenty years to school facilities, teachers, and the learning process that demonstrate Florida schools are nearing a crisis? You can read it here.

Florida Twenty Years Later: Undermining Public Schools

Diane Ravitch asked me to do a series on my reflections about the impact of school choice in Florida. I did four articles that will appear daily in her blog.

The first post “Florida Twenty Years Later: Undermining Public Schools” appeared in her blog today. It covers the false assumptions behind the choice movement i.e. choice saves money and spurs innovation. What really has happened the last twenty years to school facilities, teachers, and the learning process that demonstrate Florida schools are nearing a crisis? You can read it here.

The second piece: “Twenty Years Later: Impact of Charter and Private Sector Schools” summarizes where the lack of common rules governing schools leads. The simple answer is profiteering, corruption and charter school closures.

The third piece: “Twenty years later: Who Benefits, Not Schools!” covers the impact of choice policies on civil rights, funding, local vs. state control, and accountability. One might ask: Who benefits in a system that generates so much conflict? Politicians and profiteers, but not the public may well be the answer.

The fourth piece “Twenty Years Later: The SociaI Impact of Privatizaton” covers resegregation and the result of the ‘separate but equal’ philosophy governing school choice. Separate is not equal.

Want to hear Diane Ravitch and Me on Louisville Radio?

Prior to the Louisville, Kentucky Save Our Schools forum on Thursday, Diane and I were interviewed by the local radio. Diane is on the first seven minutes. I follow her. We cover privatization of schools and testing. We also covered social issues such as racial and economic segregation, charter vs. public school achievement, tax credit scholarships, teacher turnover Then, we cover for-profit charter profiteering. We close with the funding drain from public schools and describe the consequences for public school facilities and programs. We even mentioned the PACT campaign against for-profit charters. We closed with some signs of hope.

If you would like to listen, click here. The link is for October 11th and appears at the bottom of the screen.

The Time is Ripe for Charter Reform

What should the Florida legislative education agenda be for the upcoming session? How about charter school reform? New Jersey’s governor has just declared a moratorium on charter school expansion. They need to step back and review the management oversight and expansion policies.

California’s governor has just signed into law a ban on for-profit charters.

The U.S. Office of Inspector General has issued a new report stating that federal dollars disappear on charters that fail. They conducted an audit in Arizona, California, and Louisiana. It is no better in Florida.

Even Erika and Byron Donalds, co-founders and board members of Mason Classical Academy discovered first hand that they could not correct questionable management practices at their school. They pulled their children out. This is the only option charter parents have.

Their is at least one caveat about charter reform. There are those, like Donalds, who want to create a separate state school system for charters. Somehow this is supposed to improve oversight.

Dividing public dollars into two education systems opens a Pandora’s box. Which system gets how much money? What happens to the building when charter schools, that are privately owned, close. What happens now is that the charter management firms’ real estate companies can repurpose the buildings and reap the profits.

Yes, we need reform. We need, however, to vet the reformers. Be sure to question legislative candidates. Help them understand the consequences of charter mismanagement.