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Friday, January 17, 2020

The real danger in Florida’s legislative session, isn’t a lack of pay, it’s Privatization

This is Florida, even when times were good for education they weren’t that good. So yes teacher pay and resources for education is a big problem, but even bigger is the Governor’s plan to privatize our schools. While they were pushing bad teacher pay ideas through the front door, they are slipping a massive expansion of vouchers and charters, almost unopposed through the back.

The Governor has proposed a massive expansion of vouchers for private schools, private schools, that I remind you that can take and keep whoever they want, and teach whatever they want too. If the governor has his way, any student not receiving a three on the FSA reading would now be eligible for a voucher, where ironically there is no FSA, and gone will be the requirement that children at least had to try public schools for a year. Furthermore, those families eligible will be well into the middle class. Hundreds of thousands of students that at least had some modest hoops to jump through will now have none.

Then there is charters. Despite over 400 failing, you would have thought the legislature would have gotten a clue by now, they continue to push for their expansion. You ever notice how republicans rail against waste and duplication, well friends, there’s nothing more wasteful, than an unnecessary charter school in the same neighborhood as a public one, and holy duplication Batman.

Once again, the republicans in Tallahassee want to ignore the state constitution and circumnavigate school boards and give the power to authorize charters to an appointed body, sorry make that something like 30 different appointed bodies.  

This measure has been declared unconstitutional time and time again, but that never stopped Tallahassee from trying to kneecap public ed, not that the constitution is really a hallowed document at this point, it’s more like a list of suggestions written on the back of a cocktail napkin during happy hour.

From the Tampa Times:

So for yet another year, they’re proposing legislation to allow other entities to authorize charters and enter contracts for their operation. The latest comes in the Florida House, where state Rep. Stan McClain, an Ocala Republican, has revived a bill (HB 953) that would give state public colleges and universities the power to approve charter schools…

In debate, some of the bill’s drivers including McClain, who also is vice chairman of PreK-12 Appropriations, suggested the measure would do something other than allow public colleges and universities to serve as charter authorizers if they wish.

They spoke about the need to improve career training, and the importance of having colleges and universities create and operate charter schools that fit with their missions. The bill speaks more broadly, though, about allowing colleges and universities to sponsor charter schools operated by others to pursue workforce needs.

At the bottom, though, the supporters focused on one key point: Making it easier to open charters, in order to give families more choices. They said public universities, already entrusted with billions in state funds, seemed a logical choice to expand charter authorization.

“To me the question here isn’t about public vs. private. This is all public education,” Fischer said. “We’re talking about trusting public universities. ... It comes down to trust.”

Some Democrats on the committee saw it otherwise. Already leery of charters, they suggested the issue centered on keeping K-12 education within the realm of elected school boards.

“The school board is elected individuals responsible for expenditures of public funds,” said Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere. “What is proposed is authorization of charter schools by people who are not elected and not accountable to the people.”

Um Fischer??? That guy is my rep and nothing he says should be taken at face value, because the only thing he values is who gives him campaign cash, and if you guessed most of that comes from charters you guessed right.

Friends, they may throw some nickels at public ed teachers this year, but what’s it going to matter if in ten years there aren’t many public schools left.

I get it, as a teacher, teacher pay is a huge issue, but the reality is their privatization agenda is more pervasive and damaging and needs to be stopped both for the future of the profession and the future of public ed.   

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