Abandoning our Public Schools

by Pat Drago

Pat, a member of the State Board of the Florida League of Women Voters says it all. School choice is all about changing what we value as a society couched in deceptive language about helping children by turning them over to private corporations. Read Pat’s thoughts and share your own. Don’t just tell each other. Let your legislators know. Help others to understand the money interests behind the privatization of education

When the 2017 legislature passed the 278 bill titled HB7069 in the last days of an extended legislative session and Gov. Scott signed the measure into law, Florida’s constitutional responsibility for public education was out-sourced. And it doesn’t even have to go to the lowest bidder. No bids required.

This is the wholesale transfer of public dollars to line private pockets with no performance requirements. The entry criteria are marginal at best. Why did this pass in the last minutes of the session, with no time for scrutiny? It was because it could not stand the light of day.

What happens now? Struggling public schools in high poverty areas can be closed and students allowed to attend charter schools operated by corporate charter operators. Do they need to meet any performance measures for students? No. Do all students need to be educated by them? No. They will be eligible to receive millions in state funds. Is there any requirement that their expenditures to inure to the public? No.

In addition, after the Fl. Senate heard testimony this session on the dire situation in many districts related to deferred maintenance and deteriorating schools, what did HB7069 do, but take funds from local districts’ capital outlay and transfer to charter schools. There was very good language the senate had included that required the recipient of any of these dollars to protect the public interest and not engage in self-dealing. The final version of HB7069 deleted that language. And we have to ask ourselves WHY?

Why the last minute rush that deleted the good language and left the indefensible? Why avoid the scrutiny and benefit that debate and amendment bring to the deliberative process? Why did the governor sign it when he had thousands of Floridians who begged him not to?

It’s official – the State of Florida as personified by House Speaker Corcoran and Gov. Scott, no longer believes in its neighborhood public schools or believes it has any role to play in improving the future for its children. They also do not believe in transparent financial accountability for millions of taxpayer dollars.

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One Comment

  1. Pat, your words are precise and well-defined, an excellent read. The NAACP passed a resolution last year demanding a moratorium on new charters until charters cleaned up their act. Should the LWV support this?

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