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Sunday, July 11, 2021

Florida's separate and unequal education system

The GOP has been in power in Florida for over two decades, and practically since day one, public education has been in their crosshairs. The reasons are many and varied, education has a disproportionate amount of women, many zealots in office would prefer a religious education, teachers' unions genuinely support democrats, or politicians are simply doing the bidding of their big donors, to mention a few. Whatever the reason, what the GOP has created is an unfair and unequal system that benefits few.      

The state constitution says The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require.

Let's see if the system that outs billions into voucher schools is both uniform and efficient.

Public school teachers have to have degrees, get certified, and every five years get recertified. Many also have to take continuing education classes in reading ESOL and ESE. Teachers in voucher schools don't have to have certifications let alone degrees. 

Public school children have to take an annual assessment that measures their progress and is used to measure teachers' performance as well. The assessments are also used to grade schools. Children in voucher schools do not have to take any assessment. There is no mechanism to grade voucher schools.

Public schools must educate any child that shows up, where private schools often discriminate against ESE and LGBTQ children and pick who they both take and keep.      

Finally, public schools must report how they spend every penny, where most private schools that take vouchers don't have to report what they do with the taxpayer money they receive. 

None of that is uniform or efficient, and as bad as that is, the lack of high quality is even worse.  

A recent study by the FEA reported that 1,233 of the 1,654 (75%) private schools in Florida that offer education through grade 12 are unaccredited.

Then there is this from the Department of educations website.

Not accredited? Can't guaranty if colleges and universities will accept degrees from these private voucher schools? 

It's no wonder either, as the Orlando Sentinel reported that hundreds of private schools teach junk science and history classes that say things like dinosaurs and humans lived together, and slaves were free as long as they had Jesus in their hearts.  Voucher schools don't have to have a recognized curriculum or, sadly, any curriculum at all. They are allowed to do whatever they want and the GOP reasons well if a parent somewhere is okay with it, let's fork over thousands of dollars to get it done. The taxpayers of Florida are paying for that. High quality, not a chance. 

Having two systems is not efficient, it is not uniform, and it definitely isn't high quality. Still, the GOP would have taxpayers and citizens believe they are doing the people of Florida a favor by creating it.  

Even if you think public education is failing, a false notion, or indoctrinating children to hate their country, which is both false and ridiculous, or you love the concept of school choice, you have to be disgusted by what the GOP has created. Hundreds of millions are sent annually to barely regulated unaccredited schools that can discriminate and teach whatever they want, no matter how crazy. It's unfair, illegal, and bad business. 

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