Please ask your rep to support SB 584

SB 584: Charter Schools sponsored by Senator Janet Cruz

It was referred to the following committees:  Education; Appropriations Subcommittee on Education; Appropriations.  The companion bill is H 1089.

HB 7069 changed the law so that charter schools get a share of school district construction money. The change means more public money going to charters whose facilities are privately owned.  If those schools close, Robert Avossa points out, the facilities that the charters built, renovated or leased typically remain in private hands.  (ref 6).   This bill SB 584 aims to prevent for-profit companies from profiting in this way.

We have to manage charter schools so that resources are not dissipated through short-term profit-oriented schemes.  Educational needs are expensive, but state resources are limited.  (ref 5)

For years, Florida has had one of the highest annual charter school closure rates in the country, involving schools that were closed after financial and other scandals.  (ref 2)

A 2018 poll by an independent group offered two statements relating to helping children in under-performing schools — invest in public schools or give parents more choice — and asked respondents to pick the one that represented their views. The majority in that poll selected investment in the neighborhood and magnet schools. (ref 3)

Charter schools were originally proposed as teacher-run schools that would use innovative techniques to be shared with traditional schools.  Lax regulation of charter schools has created opportunities for financial mismanagement and criminal corruption. (ref 4) This bill is a welcome addition to the call for transparency in the operation of charter schools.

There have been many news stories about the problems with some charter schools. Protect taxpayer money and pass SB 584. Some charter schools are excellent but some provide taxpayer money to corporations which are not operated in the students’ interests.  Currently, most for-profit firms have shadow boards appointed by the for-profit companies. Their for-profit status allows them to operate out of the public view. (ref 1)

This blog entry was updated 3/14/2019.

Links in case you want to do further reading:

  1. http://lwveducation.com/new-bill-to-ban-for-profit-charter-management-firms/
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2018/12/18/rest-peace-public-education-florida-newspaper/
  3. https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/2019/02/25/critics-question-value-of-foundations-school-choice-survey/
  4. http://www.integrityflorida.org/the-hidden-costs-of-charter-school-choice-privatizing-public-education-in-florida/
  5. http://files.ctctcdn.com/9e023c2e001/312a667d-ca9e-4dc6-be72-3eb1d9d47c25.pdf
  6.  http://extracredit.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2017/06/15/fla-educators-are-flipping-out-over-hb-7069-heres-what-it-does/

Link to bill: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00584

 

Please tell the members on the committees to oppose SB 330

SB 330: Educational Standards for K-12 Public Schools ( Senator Dennis Baxley –District 12)

We do not want to undermine sound STEM education in Florida schools.  Past governors and legislators have given lip service to strengthening STEM teaching and trying to attract STEM related jobs to Florida.  Opening a backdoor that would allow unscientific principles such as intelligent design or climate change denial into the classroom does not promote STEM education in Florida public schools.

Currently (as of the last update of this blog on 3/14/2019)  the bill does not have a companion bill in the House and we hope SB 330 will die in committee.  SB 330 will diminish the standards of our education curriculum.  We want our students of our state to receive a GREAT education.

SB 330 could affect how science and other subjects are taught; well-established scientific concepts like evolution and human-caused climate change might have to be “balanced” with ideas that haven’t withstood scientific scrutiny if this bill passes. 1   We need to cease embracing debunked ideas in the name of balance.3  The National Center for Science was among the first to lodge an objection to the bill. 4

In addition to worries about what the bill would do to science classes, we are also concerned about other parts of the bill.  IF you want to promote the teaching of financial literacy, then you should introduce a separate bill using the phrase “economic theories that have reliably predicted observed outcomes” but not reference any specific theories.  It is not objectionable to teach the 100 year old Keynesian and Hayekian economic theories but they should not be singled out in legislation.  5

Some say that parts of SB 330 have the goal of teaching religion in science class.2

References :
1. https://www.wmnf.org/florida-bill-nonscientific-theories-taught-science-classes/

2. http://lwveducation.com/assault-on-separation-of-church-and-state/ 

3.  http://floridapolitics.com/archives/287288-joe-henderson-balance-are-you-kidding-florida-sb-330-is-educational-quackery

4. https://www.watchdog.org/florida/bill-wants-climate-change-evolution-alternate-theories-taught-in-public/article_bafc7d84-24e1-11e9-9c1f-1f5dde344a2d.html

5. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-02-21/modern-monetary-theory-is-not-a-recipe-for-doom. This article isn’t specifically about SB 330. I put the link here to demonstrate that mentioning Keynesian and Hayekian economic theories in the bill might limit the economic teacher in -her/his discussion about the current economic theories.

Here is the link to the bill: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00330

 

 

Bills that I would support

Worker protections

* ​Develop prevention programs to eliminate bullying and human trafficking

* Establish a minimum wage so that a 40 hour work week will bring a person above the poverty level

* Require overtime pay for anyone working more than 40 hours per week

* Require that government shutdowns do NOT cause any non-elected government worker to miss a paycheck

* Develop the potential of  our working population.  Eliminate the guest worker visa that prevents workers from fully participating in the free market ability to change jobs.  More information at this LINK

Education

* Affirm that religious instruction belongs in the home and in the religious institutions not in public or private schools funded by state or federal government

* Make it a priority to meet the demands of ARTICLE IX SECTION 1 of Florida’s Constitution. Details can be found at this LINK

* ​Develop prevention programs to eliminate the school to prison pipeline

* ​Develop prevention programs to eliminate bullying

* The state will fully fund social workers, mental health counselors and tutors for every neighborhood school.  Make sure there is adequate social workers available for the student and the student’s family.   Students outside the neighborhood should not be more than 50% of the student population.  IF a magnet program has a waiting list sufficient to support a similar magnet program, then the second magnet program will be offered at another neighborhood school.

* Make the neighborhood school buildings and grounds beautiful so that the community will be proud to have them in their community.  Funding for the neighborhood schools will be provided by the state.  All will be maintained to similar high standards.

* Teachers at charter schools will be part of the state system.  Their compensation will be similar to the benefits and the pay of the teachers at the neighborhood and magnet schools.  The state will pay the teachers’ compensation package.   The buildings and other requirements of charter schools must be funded by philanthropists, i.e the state will ONLY pay the teachers’ compensation package.   Charter school enrollment must consist of  at least 25% student enrollment of students qualifying for free lunch.

 Make our state beautiful for tourists and citizens

* Beautify the buildings and grounds of all public buildings including neighborhood schools and libraries for the use by the citizens.

* Provide for parks.  Green spaces provide vital health services as well as environmental services; they are equigenic, reducing socioeconomic health inequalities, facilitating activity and promoting better mental health and well-being. The integration of biophilic design may provide a cost-effective public health intervention, which promotes the evident positive links between green spaces and mental health. More information at this LINK

* Ban fracking and offshore drilling

* Finance purchase of Florida Forever lands and enact protections from development

* Protect Florida’s springs, aquifers and the Everglades from over development and pollution

* Require infrastructure vulnerability assessments and fund flood mitigation projects

* Require post disaster rebuilding to take sea level rise estimates into account

* Public access to the beach must include 10 feet wide walking area, be clearly marked and available at least every mile.

Reduce the murder rate in our state

* Require universal background checks and waiting periods​ for the purchase of all guns​

* Ban ​the possession outside the home of  high capacity magazines and bump stocks. This ban will make the sale and transport of such items illegal in the state of Florida. The items will be confiscated and destroyed and a fine of at least $1,000 for the breaking of this law.

*In keeping with the “well regulated” part of the 2nd amendment, anyone with a concealed carry or hunting license must take a gun safety class and pass a quiz EVERY year.  Sales tax will be charged and collected for the class and the sales tax will be dedicated to fund state owned and operated mental health (including addiction treatment) outpatient clinics.

* Repeal “Stand Your Ground” to discourage people from killing people.  ​The 2017 ​bill that shift​ed the burden of proof from the defense to the prosecution​ is especially troubling​. ​ We need that 2017 bill repealed since under that law defendants who claim to have killed out of fear for their lives needn’t provide supporting evidence that their perceptions of threat were reasonable.  LINK for more information

Prison reform

* Facilitate re-entry programs with job training, job placement and assimilation help​ More information at this LINK

* ​End the money bail system that criminalizes poverty

* Legalize cannabis for 21 and older adults.  Require that any sale of cannabis include labeling information for toxicity.   Sales tax will be collected for the sale of cannabis and alcohol and the funds will be dedicated to fund state owned and operated mental health (including addiction treatment) outpatient clinics.

* Destigmatize mental health check ups.

Treat all citizens with respect and dignity

* Ban conversion therapy for children.  Respect that not all kids fall in the average range in the bell curve for extroversion, sexual orientation, sexual identity, etc.

* Support reproductive freedoms, the right to choose and prescription contraceptive coverage

* End taxpayer funding for anti-abortion fake clinics (repeal SB0444/HB0041)

* Ensure access to family planning clinics.

Encourage citizens to make informed voting choices

* Implement Automatic Voter Registration (AVR)

*Require all candidates to participate in at least one televised debate prior to the election in order to appear on that ballot.  Allow each candidate to fact check the claims made during the debate by the other candidates and make that information (as well as the candidate’s response) available on line at least two days  prior to the start of early voting.

*Early voting must always last a full 14 days and made available at all public libraries and state colleges.

*Eliminate closed primaries. IF only two people are running for a position then they will only run in the general election and not the primary.  The two candidates receiving the most votes in the primary will run in the general election.  All general elections must have two candidates.  To achieve that, fees are eliminated for the second candidate if no one has applied by a specified deadline.  The political party (of the two major parties) not already on the ballot for that position will get to choose that second candidate.

 

HB 855, SB 330 , SB 770 and SB 584

Why is DeSantis dropping common core?  What’s next?  What kind of feedback is he looking for in the survey?

Link to survey:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FLstandardsreview

Quote from February 18th post on http://www.flascience.org/:

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis caused quite a stir when he announced he was directing Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to review the state’s academic standards and suggest revisions by January 1, 2020.

I am worried about what appears to be a trend to use taxpayer money to teach other people’s religion.  Religion should be taught at home and in the religious institutions.  The teaching of religious dogma should NOT be funded with taxpayer monies.

Taxpayer money should be used to make the neighborhood schools GREAT.  We need to fund tutors and social workers and making the neighborhood schools beautiful.

State Senator Travis Hutson (R-St. Johns) introduced a bill  (  SB 770 ) , if passed, would dramatically change traditional four-year graduation requirements for high school students by doing away with the requirement to pass some  math and science courses.  Please oppose the bill.   More options for work force training are needed but not by sacrificing science and math literacy.   A basic science foundation is needed to be a good citizen.  We understand that some kids are quicker to grasp math and science concepts.  Let’s find room in the budget for tutors for those kids that need extra help.  More information can be found at this link: http://www.flascience.org/?p=3441

Hopefully it is self-evident why this is a particularly troublesome part of House Bill 855 :

After exhausting all local policy remedies and  appealing to the State Board of Education, a parent or resident  may sue in circuit court for an injunction to remove such  materials and may recover reasonable attorney fees and costs.

More about HB 855 can be found at http://www.flascience.org/?p=3435

It is worrisome that Florida Citizens Alliance wrote Senate Bill 330  since they have a reputation for wanting the teaching of myths and wild guesses taught in science class.  The use of the term “controversial issues” concerns me.   We want scientific theories and the scientific method taught in science class.  New discoveries are being made constantly.  Will a scientific theory be controversial just because someone doesn’t want to accept the overwhelming evidence?   More about SB 330 at http://www.flascience.org/?p=3431 and https://uniteusdonotdivideus.com/2019/02/04/please-tell-your-rep-to-vote-no-on-sb-330-that-was-introduced-in-the-florida-senate-in-2019/ .

Please oppose any bill that uses the term “controversial issues”  because it appears that it is an attempt to teach wild guesses and myths in science class.  Science is about evidence and scientific theories.  Our goal should be to adapt a set of research-based, up-to-date K–12 science standards.  Quote from https://www.nextgenscience.org/ :

Next Gen Science has developed  standards that give local educators the flexibility to design classroom learning experiences that stimulate students’ interests in science and prepares them for college, careers, and citizenship. Science—and therefore science education—is central to the lives of all Americans. A high-quality science education means that students will develop an in-depth understanding of content and develop key skills—communication, collaboration, inquiry, problem solving, and flexibility—that will serve them throughout their educational and professional lives.

Please support SB 584 as proposed by Senator Cruz.  It aims to reduce the financial abuses by for-profit entities using taxpayer monies for charter schools.  Link to bill:  http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00584 The voters spoke loud and clear when they voted yes on Amendment 12. And the charter/voucher area is one area where we (the voters) are worried about corruption.

Please tell your rep to vote NO on SB 330 that was introduced in the Florida Senate in 2019

I wonder what founding values Baxley means in this bill he proposed.  Quote from SB 330:

shall strictly adhere to the founding values and principles of the United States in accordance with s. 1003.42

Women and slaves couldn’t vote when the country was founded.  Surely Baxley doesn’t mean those values, does he?   What exactly does he mean?

Also why does Baxley want to put it into law that Keynesian and Hayekian economic theories must be taught? Focusing on two theories (close to 100 years old) is misleading. A lot has happened in economic theory since then.  Certainly there is a lot bad in SB 330 (2019) BUT if Senator Baxley wants to promote the teaching of financial literacy, then he should introduce a separate bill specific to that and make this the wording:

Financial literacy instruction must be an integral part of instruction throughout the entire economics course and include economic theories that have reliably predicted observed outcomes

The debate about whether the government should use its fiscal powers (spending, taxing and borrowing) in whatever manner best enables it to maintain full employment and price stability is a good one.  The debate about the harm of deficits is also a good one.  IF we want well informed voters, then please give them a good background.  Link to a great article about economic theories being debated today

Screen shot of the whole paragraph of the bill pertaining to financial literacy.  The green part is the new part being proposed by Senator Baxley:

And here is the link to the s. 1003.42 mentioned above:

https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2018/1003.42

Also what does he mean by controversial? Perhaps it sounds innocuous until you realize that the people that are proposing the bill think evolution and global warming are controversial. And the balanced manner means that they want creationism taught in science class along with evolution. Quote from SB 330 (2019):

(b) Science standards must establish specific curricular content for, at a minimum, the nature of science, earth and space science, physical science, and life science. Controversial theories and concepts shall be taught in a factual, objective, and balanced manner.

Quote from this article at this LINK:

A new bill in the Florida Legislature could affect how science and other subjects are taught; well-established scientific concepts like evolution and human-caused climate change might have to be ‘balanced’ with ideas that haven’t withstood scientific scrutiny.  …  One critic of the bill, Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando), is a newly-elected  state representative in House District 47.

Quote from this article at this LINK

Bill 330 by Senator Baxley from Ocala adds controversial science and economic theories to the curriculum.

Quote from this article at this LINK

Cease embracing debunked theories in the name of balance. We need smart people going forward. Florida doesn’t need more things like SB 330.