THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE’S WAR ON PUBLIC EDUCATION

The Florida Legislature’s cronies and their corporate masters have unwittingly unleashed what may be a game changing backlash from public school parents.

Thanks to the Florida legislature’s maliciously calculated assault on Florida’s public schools, the Opt Out movement is growing and gaining momentum in Florida. Parents across the state are waking up to the reality that the dubious cast of political scoundrels who have tirelessly pushed for so-called “accountability” and “reform” are actually using those euphemistic characterizations as a subterfuge for an outrageously treacherous agenda of corporatization of our public education system. This out of control assembly of corporatizing hustlers have shown, through their own refusal to slow down or alter course in the face of nearly unanimous opposition by parents and public educators, that they don’t give a damn about our children. They have demonstrated, by driving full-steam over the objections of nearly all stakeholders, that they intend to destroy American Public Education, the Greatest Institution our nation ever established, and once the envy of the entire world, for nothing more than dollars in their pockets.

The mainstream corporate media has failed public schools in their battle for survival. It has failed students. It has failed parents.

Likewise, education bureaucrats have also failed students, parents and educators. They have hidden behind their pathetic, chickenshit “I’m just following orders” excuses and allowed a band of shameless, profiteering political cronies to engage in a feebly disguised campaign to systematically dismantle our public schools and to rob an entire generation of American children their right to an education.

The politicians have completely forgotten who elected them. They have ignored the facts. They have distorted what little “truth” they tell.

The formula for the destruction of public education in Florida is very simple:

1) Fail to fund public education adequately. This one is a biggie. For decades, the Florida legislature has failed to invest in its own public school system. Much of the money it does send down to districts is categorical in nature, and deprives the districts of the flexibility they need to utilize funds effectively.

2) Relentlessly attack teachers’ unions as self-interested accomplices to mediocrity. All unions have their problems. Teachers unions are no different. However, next to parents, no one cares more about students than their teachers. No one. Without a professional organization, teachers have zero defense against marauding charlatans who so often seek administrative positions and attempt to use their power to destroy the teachers they do not like. That is the TRUTH.

3) Attempt to convince parents that teachers are their enemies. Politicians, bureaucrats and many administrators are lightning quick when it comes to finger pointing. The finger always points right at the teacher(s).

4) Orchestrate a public school grading system wherein the criteria for grades are changed annually for almost two decades. Since Jeb Bush came up with Florida’s fantastically simplistic and inaccurate school grading system, the state has changed the criteria for grading nearly every year. The system is nothing but smoke and mirrors; it is pure out and out bunk. Socioeconomic factors, which play a huge role in the so-called “performance” of a school, are completely ignored.

5) Develop an utterly fraudulent test and allow no teacher or student to know what is on it. The Florida Standards Assessments, rolled out last spring in true circus-like fashion, matched the Utah state standards better than it did Florida’s. The Florida Senate and House of Representatives, emboldened by a largely detached public, seemed overly confident that whatever scandal its pitiful inaugural administration caused would quickly dissipate, and overworked Floridians would get back to work trying to make a living and leave government to the governing class. It hasn’t worked out like that. Floridians are ticked off and have decided en masse that enough is enough.

6) Devise a testing regimen that squanders a huge portion of instructional time. Testing dominates a large portion of public school time. There are, indeed, periods of time in the school year during which schools’ administrators are consumed with the requirements of administering a test that is intended from its very genesis to discredit them, their teachers and their schools. Politicians and bureaucrats will attempt to have students believe that the reason they perform so poorly on the assessments is that they attend “failing” schools and have “ineffective” teachers. What they have is a failed legislature. During the 2014-2015 school year in Florida, so much time was spent administering tests that there was hardly any time left to prepare students for the tests. How can one expect a student to learn through incessant testing? The system became so pitifully ridiculous that district superintendents, in very rare acts of defiance, began to abort testing in the hope that some degree of normalcy might be restored to the students’ learning environment. The entire situation was nothing less than shameful.

7) Spend extremely large sums of taxpayer money on contracts with third-party corporate entities. Politicians love to talk about investing in public education, but they hate to actually put their money where their mouths are. Take the conflict of interest-ridden John Legg, for example: Ol’ JohnnyBoy claimed that the Florida legislature made a “commitment” to spend $100 million on technology in Florida Schools, but that was after that same bunch of his cronies spent $220 million on attempting to test those very same schools right out of business. Last I heard, “committing” isn’t the same as spending. Johnnyboy is a flat-out liar by proxy. The proxy? Omission of the TRUTH. The beneficiaries of the public money funneled to private pockets are the owners of corporations with dubious records with regards to results in the education arena. Our politicians simply do not care. All they care about is the cash-flow.

8) Establish so-called charter schools in the name of “reform,” further siphoning off taxpayer dollars and funneling it into the coffers of private companies and corporations. The legislature has written into statute requirements that public school districts share their money with the very charters that intend to replace them. Unified protest by district superintendents had zero effect.

9) Allow the same guys who make the rules to own charter schools in the very same districts they represent. John Legg is one. Richard Corcoran (through the flimsy front of his wife) is another. These guys intend to annihilate public education for profit. There is way too much material here for a mere paragraph. An entire post on these crooks is in the works. Technically, what they do is legal, but it is saturated to the dripping point with conflicts of interest. According to the nonpartisan League of Women Voters, Florida gets a big fat F when it comes to ethics enforcement agencies. It “achieves” an overall ethics rating of C-.

Funny: if a Florida classroom teacher’s students averaged an overall C-, that teacher would undoubtedly be rated as ineffective and be shown the door. Why do our legislators make the bar so high for students, teachers and schools, and yet so low for themselves?

MONEY.

There is a lot of money to be made in education. First our legislators need to figure out how to pilfer it from the treasury in the name of “reform.”

In order to do that, they must first test and oppress the public school system out of existence.

It will take the parents, of whom I am one, to stop them.

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