Supreme Court to hear Citizens for Strong Schools case

Today the Florida Supreme Court agreed to hear the inadequate funding case for education. The plaintiffs argued that Florida’s children suffer from the failure of the State to adequately implement Article IX of the Florida Constitution. The underlying issue is whether the judicial branch can determine whether or not the quality of education in the state is justiciable. If it is not, then Article IX becomes meaningless. The quality of education would be a political determination by the legislature.

You can read a summary of the closing arguments in the case from 2016 here.

Politicians’ Wives On Charter Boards

Erika Donalds, wife of Florida Representative Byron Donalds, was appointed by Governor Scott to the Constitutional Revision Commission. She is behind the current proposed amendments to Florida school boards and charter school districts. Behind the scenes, there is much more telling information about her support for charter schools. In this article by Emily Mahoney in the Tampa Bay Times, you can see her ties to Richard Corcoran’s wife Ann who also is tied to charter schools. As I mentioned in a previous post, these aren’t just any charter schools.

Senate Passes HB 7055 Today

So why did Senator Montford support HB 7055 today? He had a list of reasons he thought were more important than the provisions he did not support. Montford is the long time head of the District Superintendents Association. He said many of provisions seemed small, but they were important e.g.

*consolidation of the scholarship programs under Step Up for Children
*support for the 300 lowest performing schools and SAI funding for low performing students
*adding prior year of teaching for qualifications for the Best and Brightest teacher bonus
*improving VPK regulations
*correcting Title I allocation by districts from last year’s HB 7069.
*Allowing a broader dual enrollment range of courses
*providing Reading Scholarships for students failing the FSA in grades 3-5 to give parents money to cover costs for tutors or other materials.

and most important, allowing districts to receive 100% of the 1.5 mills capital outlay and district flexibility to have schools that did not meet State K12 building code standards.

The big negative issues included:
*decertify teacher’s unions, but not police or fire unions.
*Hope Scholarships, paid for by sales taxes on new cars, for children who were documented victims of bullying or harassment.
*expansion of charter schools with independent governing boards.

There was a big emphasis on district accountability, a small provision to improve background checks for private schools, and a lessening of accountability for charters. This seems backwards.

A provision that requires districts to calculate financial efficiency indicators including the ratio of classroom expense to total operating expense, classroom instruction to total expense, and the ratio of full time students to administrators. These ratios are to be tied to student achievement for schools of similar size. The kicker in this provision would withhold salaries of district superintendents and school board members if the indicators did not meet a state standard. Sounds like more lawsuits in the making.

Typo in Doomsday Post

Clearly I still have last year’s bad bill HB 7069 in my head. In the post “Doomsday or Glimmer of Hope”, the bill the Senate sent back to the House was this year’s House bill 7055 which just got yet another number HB5001. The Senate bill number is now SB2500.

This madness is making me ‘dizzy’, but at least we were correct to question the process. Now, let’s hope the individual issues will be presented one at a time as they are supposed to be. Now, I really will take my dr.’s advice.


Hi Folks,

This past week I was told I need eye surgery. I am waiting for it to be scheduled. As a result, I have had to resign as the Florida League Education Chair. This blog will no longer represent the League. I am maintaining the blog for your convenience because of all the information in it. When I am able, I will add posts.

For now, you need to do nothing differently. I just wanted to let you know why not much will appear for awhile, especially once the surgery is performed.


KOCH Brothers lose on voucher ballot lawsuit in Arizona

The Governor of Arizona signed a voucher bill and public school supporters filed a ballot measure in response. Public school supporter gathered thousands of petitions to require the state to put vouchers to a vote of the people. American Federation for Children and other voucher support organizations filed a lawsuit to invalidate the petition drive. The judge ruled in favor of the voters. The voucher expansion vote will be on the ballot, if it is not overturned on appeal.

Florida’s Constitutional Revision Commission has filed P.4 to remove constitutional restrictions to fund private schools. This proposal will be on the ballot in Florida on November 6th. Help get out the vote to oppose the attacks on our public schools.

Did Miami-Dade Suggest a Better Choice?

Suppose high performing districts could turn themselves into charter districts. They would be governed by the elected school board and freed from most state regulation for curriculum, facilities, and staffing. The State Curriculum Standards and assessments would be in place, teachers would be certified and be part of the State system, and school facilities would vary according to need.

The suggestion from Superintendent Carvalho is part of the draft Florida Senate bill 2508 now circulating, and an amendment P93 by the Constitutional Revision Commission member, R. Martinez. A different version of the concept was filed in the House: PCB 18-01 Will there be unintended consequences? No doubt! Is it a better direction than privatizing our schools and taking away local control from elected school boards? Yes. Is it better than what we have now with a one size fits all set of regulations? Maybe.

None of this well correct the test driven instruction due to the school grading accountability system. It will not solve the funding problem for school operations, but it might reduce facility cost. Of course, less expensive facilities may also mean less space, quality, and a proliferation of small, inefficient and therefore costly schools. The problems associated with inequity due to housing patterns remain. Problems associated with teacher recruitment are not easily solved if salaries are not competitive and teachers’ expertise is not valued. Districts will have to have the expertise and ability to make good decisions. Nevertheless, it might be a step in the right direction.

There is a difference between the House and Senate versions of this concept. The Senate keeps these charter districts under school board control. The CRC proposal P93 is more like the one in the Senate version. Both bills include many other provisions that deserve careful scrutiny.

At least this year, the legislature is airing these proposals early and getting feedback. They are, however, still tying concepts worth considering to those more controversial and destructive all in the same bill.