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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Steve Wise, the worse or the worst ever

I usually thoroughly enjoy Julie Delegal’s pieces. We have a like mind on a number of issues especially the importance of education. However when I read her last back page article, A Teachable Moment, I couldn’t help but think, is she out of her mind!?!

Now it wasn’t the part about politicians exploiting fear and ignorance, long the best play in the rights playbook. That part was valid and on point, it was when she started to write about Jacksonville’s own state senator Steve Wise, that my blood started to boil. She wrote gushingly about Senator Wise and how he is congenial and cares about children’s issues and it almost made me physically ill because nothing could be further from the truth. Mrs. Delegal by all accounts Hitler was nice to his secretaries too and where I am not comparing Wise to Hitler it just goes to show you that even the most heartless and wrong of men can’t be a Dick all of the time.

Steve Wise has done more to harm public education and thus children than any other person I can think of. First there is his teacher profession killing bill, senate bill 736. This misguided, non researched based, go on your cut piece of legislation is so bad that it has made teachers wish Charlie Crist didn’t veto last year’s knee capping senate bill six. Along with being yet another unfunded mandate that is going to cost the state’s school districts billions of dollars at the same time the legislature is slashing budgets into the bone, there is absolutely no good in this bill and I challenge anybody to show otherwise. Education is a little more complex, than pay the best, fire the rest and it is made even more maddening because the legislature budgeted no money to pay anyone. Its sole purpose is to further cripple public schools here in Florida to quicken the Republicans ultimate goal of complete school privatization. But what is even worse id Wise’s litany of wrongs just starts there.

He has championed the expansion of charter schools whom despite the fact they get to play by their own rules do no better than public schools. He wants to give them 15 year contracts (teachers will only have one year to prove themselves), strip school boards of control and allow them to be run remotely. He screams accountability for teachers but then shrugs his shoulders at charter schools, many of which will be for profit and care more about their bottom line than the education of our sons and daughters.

He is part of the legislature that wants to roll back funding for k-12 education to actual, not adjusted for inflation, 1976 dollars, 6,200 then 6,200 now. He is also part of the legislature that will see the tuition at our public universities increase by 32 percent over the last two year. At this point our state colleges would probably like me to mention how he is helping end tenure for university professors. This will force many talented academics to seek employment elsewhere, and also means so much for attracting and keeping the best and brightest in Florida.

He wants to expand vouchers to the point where they will eventually be welfare for the well off. Make a million dollars and send your kids to Boles? No worries, here is a voucher for you. Private schools like charter schools also aren’t held to the same standards as public schools and surprisingly as a group don’t do any better. His voucher plan may however help the real estate market as fly by night private schools start opening in abandoned strip malls.

He wants intelligent design taught in our science classes. Mr. Wise we no longer teach the theory of evolution in our science classes, we just teach evolution. You are entitled to your ideology; you however are not entitled to ram it down the throats of our children.

He wants to expand opportunity scholarships so kids that attend low performing schools can go elsewhere, this despite the fact that evidence shows they usually don’t do any better when they head to their new schools. Did I mention this includes schools in other counties too? That’s right different counties will now be accepting our cities children and who do you suppose is going to have to pick up the bussing costs for that boondoggle? Well I will give you a clue, look in the mirror. Hey Mr. Wise instead of abandoning our neighborhoods why don’t we figure out what the problem is and fix it? How is that for a revolutionary idea?

Then he wants to severely cut the one reform that works and that people of Florida have demanded, smaller classes. The reason isn’t just because it costs money but also because he and any of his big business masters haven't figured out how to make a buck off it. The legislatures trick du jour is to reclassify hundreds of classes from core to elective. They want to whittle down 850, enrollment capped core classes to less than 300. And did I mention that the state instead of paying for smaller classes like the constitution says they should, have instead chose to fine schools that can’t afford it. I am not sure if this is what the voters envisioned when they twice passed the amendment.

Furthermore he is also a bully throwing his political power around by attacking school boards salaries. This is not Steve Wise trying to do what’s best for public education; this is him cajoling school boards who dared question his budget cuts, his unfunded and not research based merit bill, and a dozen or so of his other left field, public education killing ideas. Question, he says, and I will attack your money and don’t go along, then be prepared to work for free. Steve Wise is no friend of public education he is the 800 pound gorilla flexing his muscles and baring his teeth at all who dare challenge him, and it’s time the citizens of Jacksonville woke up to that before he can cause irreparable harm to our schools and our children.

Then if he is actually so fired up to save money why doesn’t he offer to cut the legislatures salaries and the size of their ever growing staffs some of whom make six figures and have dubious qualifications. He says cutting school boards would save ten million dollars statewide, well cutting the legislatures salaries and staff would save tens of millions of dollars. If it I good for the goose Mr. Wise why is not good for the gander?

And finally even though it has little to do with education, rather than insist we enforce the corporate tax fairly here in Florida which would have brought in billions in revenue, he voted to cut health spending to our seriously ill, disabled and mentally handicapped and he voted to allow people who buy yachts to cap their taxes at 600,000 dollars. You might as well splurge friends if you can afford to buy one. The taxes on a two million dollar yacht and a 600k one are the same. If he is not a dick, reasonable people might consider those dick moves.

This man is the equivalent of an earth quake, which causes a tsunami that wrecks a nuclear power plant except it’s Florida’s public schools that are being rendered uninhabitable. It’s as if he is an oil rig that blew up and pumped millions of gallons of crude into the gulf except we did nothing to try and stop him and he continues to do so. He is a pox on education and a pox on children and it doesn’t matter one bit if he wishes older students could read better or he smiles to your face. Just don’t turn your back on him because you, like every public school teacher just did, may just find a knife in it.

And don’t ask me how I really feel because that’s how I do and if you care about our public schools and our children it is how you should feel too.


  1. Where is the "like" button?

  2. Other than those little small points you brought up that destroy public education, we can say he's not so bad. lol

    T. F. Thompson Jacksonville Fl

  3. I hear he is nice to his secretaries...