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Saturday, June 22, 2019

How Gary Chartrand hoodwinked a town to push his terrible personal agenda (rough draft)

I am going to start with a list of facts, we should be able to agree on them all.

Gary Chartrand lives in a very nice house in Ponte Vedra, not Jacksonville and he does not pay property taxes that benefits our schools.

He sent his children to exclusive and private schools which are manifestly unlike the KIPP charter school he spent millions to bring to town and often champions.

He also invested heavily in Teach for America, PEN, the alternative to the teacher's union to town, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, at one time subsidized WJCT's education coverage and Jacksonville University public policy center. The Times Union's editorial board once wrote that TFA was a good investment though their only evidence was Gary Chartrand liked it. That's a heck of a lot of influence but sadly we are just getting started.

Then everyone should take a moment and look at just his local donations to political candidates, I used to joke he collected school board members like I collected baseball cards, but I think we can add city council members  and a mayor to the list. It is an impressive and long list.

The KIPP school and Teach for America have received millions extra from the state government, and local government (and the QEA) far above and beyond what their standard allotment should have been, and this is particularly ironic as the city council has been fighting against DCPS from spending their money to hold a special tax referendum.

Then with dubious credentials he was put on the state board of education which happened shortly after he gave large donations to Rick Scott.

Then there is the QEA where he and several other businessmen teamed up to introduce business minded solutions to the district and there was timing that some might call suspicion as this coincided when the KIPP school being allowed a huge and arguably unwarranted expansion. I believe the QEA for the most part was a disaster.

Now can I say he paid Vitti and Scott off to get what he wanted? No I can't, all I can do note is the timing and also some people might say the QEA was a success, though I think you would be hard pressed to find them.

Then Chartrand is not above trying to push the district around. They demanded to be part of the superintendent hiring process, and that the district continue QEA programs, and in that instance he threatened to withhold promised funds.

Then recently he had a letter delivered by the Civic Council, which he signed where he outline opposition to the sales tax referendum but mentioned they might be more amiable if the district agreed to give even more to charters.

I think this is also a fact, he is undoubtedly spearheading the resistance to the sales tax referendum. Now it may have been an easy sell to Curry and a few others but without a doubt Chartrand is front and center.

The thing is Gary Chartrand, doesn't care if the referendum would save jobs, or increase property values. He could care less if new schools would revitalize neighborhoods or stop the exodus to the suburbs, one of which he lives in. He's rich, his house is already worth millions and he certainly doesn't need a job. He doesn't care about those things but its amazing how with some campaign contributions he got the mayor and several city council members and more than a few business leaders too, to join his cause. You see friends he doesn't want to see the public schools fixed up he wants to see them bulldozed and he doesn't care if that hurts the city by and large in the process.

At the end of the day Chartrand is the villain of the story, motivated by his pathological hatred of public schools, teachers unions and his need to be right. 

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