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Monday, May 12, 2014

Choice in Florida really means privitization.

Ron Mattus, the six figured executive from Step up for Students, the states voucher group, couldn’t be more wrong about school choice in an op-ed he had published in the Gainesville Sun. His gist was Democrats and other liberals  with a few noteable suggestions were irrationally against school choice, the truth however is we are all for more school choice, we just believe choice simply for the sake of choice is a bad choice.

If charter schools weren’t allowed to counsel out poor performers or discipline problems and accepted comparable numbers of ESOL and ESE students, if most charter schools weren’t run by mercenary outfits that are first and foremost looking to make a profit but instead were teacher parent laboratories of innovation, what the very liberal union leader Albert Shanker who developed the concept thought they should be, then the left would embrace charter schools.

Then if vouchers weren’t really a thinly veiled attempt to fund religious schools, and had to have certified teachers, recognized curriculums and had the same accountability measures then more on the right would embrace them too.

Over 250 charter schools have opened taken public money and then closed leaving, students, families and communities in a lurch. The voucher crowd then fought accountability tooth and nail and these are the groups that Ron Mattus, who makes a nice living off the state promoting vouchers want us to throw our blind trust too.  Please forgive a lot of us if we remain unconvinced.

Also where are these studies that Mattus refers to? I have talked to the states expert David Figilo and he said some very good students from very good schools have taken vouchers. Desperate? Maybe some are but even more want a religious education, have an irrational hatred of unions and want nothing to do with gov’ment schools.  Should we be subsidizing their choices?

Finally I would like to point out that states that have not embraced the school choice movement have seen gains too and the most recent NEAP report, the nation’s report card made headlines in Florida because it said learning gains have stagnated in Florida over the last few years and I don’t think it is a coincidence that the time frame overlaps with Florida’s school choice movement picking up steam.   

If Matuus and his ilk want people to believe in choice, which in Florida is just code for privatization, then they have to slow down and do things right. They can’t just beat the public schools are bad drum when it is convenient to them and then say, give us more money.

Choice simply for choices sake, especially in the unregulated environment that Florida has where charlatans and mercenaries are setting up shop on any corner they can, is a bad choice.

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