Governor Scott Makes a Bad Choice

Governor Scott to sign HB 7069 today.  In a symbolic act, Governor Scott is set to sign HB 7069 at Morning Star Catholic Church in Orlando today.  Is private school what we want for our children?  We know that Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran wants to start a steam roller to privatize our schools.  He has said so publically.  The time has come for citizens to stand up for equal access for a high quality public education.

HB 7069 uses charter school expansion to fuel that initiative.  Charter schools are privately owned and managed but funded with our tax dollars.  Now, our local districts will have to give up some of their local facility funding to charters so they can pay whatever lease and bond payments private charter management firms require.

This is a serious blow to public schools whose facility funding has been sharply cut for thee past ten years.

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Have you told Governor Scott to Veto HB 7069?

The revisions Governor Scott proposed to the 2017 budget fall short.  Our public schools have to maintain their air conditioning, roofs and science labs.  We cannot divert money to privately owned charter facilities.  As Governor Scott has said in his other veto messages this year,

 “The following is vetoed because there is not a clear statewide return on investment for the renovation (or construction) of a facility not owned by the state.”

Charter schools are not owned by the state.  Ask Governor Scott to veto sharing local property taxes for public schools with privately owned charters.  Dividing the same amount of money among more schools only ensures no school is adequately funded.

SEND YOUR MESSAGE TO:  Rick.Scott@eog.myflorida.com

 

 

Charter Takeover of Jefferson County Schools: Why? 

Jefferson County schools in the Florida Panhandle, will become the State’s first charter district. The takeover by the Florida Department of Education was the result of a decade long struggle to improve the schools that simply made things worse.  This latest move is a disaster for the teachers and staff.  One half will lose their jobs for reasons that have little to do with their competence.

What happened in Jefferson County, Florida to cause the State to turn the district over to Somerset, a privately run school board that is part of the for-profit Academica charter school chain?

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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.

 

Trump Budget: Deep Cuts in Public Education

We knew this was coming, and next week it will be here.  According to the Washington Post, the education budget for public schools will be cut by $10.6 billion dollars.  The cuts include:

  • Work study cut in half; student loan programs revised
  • End of public service loan forgiveness
  • Mental health, advanced course work and other services cut
  • After school programs gone
  • Teacher training and class size reduction gone
  • Childcare for low income college students gone
  • Arts education gone
  • Gifted students gone
  • Career and technical education cut
  • and on and on

A significant change in Title I funding will impact low income public schools.  The new Title I program would allow $1 billion to go to choice schools.  Thus, low income public schools would receive even less support than they now have.   Money saved goes into charter schools and vouchers for private, religious schools.  Some funds go to increased choice for public schools.  Is this a recipe for quality schools or a disaster?

As Senator Lamar Alexander’s spokesperson said, ‘The Congress passes budgets”.  We elect congressmen and women.  Let them know what you think.

 

Poll: Most Americans Feel Fine about Choice? Not True

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research says that 58% of people don’t know much about charter schools.  Even more, 66%, know little or nothing about private school vouchers.  Nevertheless, 47% favor expanding charters and 43% would expand vouchers.  Media headlines say most Americans support choice, but this is misleading.  Most Americans either are opposed or have no opinion.  The report found that four in ten believed that the country in general would benefit from more choice.

The poll has value. It made me think.  See what you think!

 

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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?