What is the future of public K-12 education?

public education

I hope the school board will bring this up when they try to figure out how they are going to pay for the repair of the neighborhood school buildings. The GOP dominated legislature gave $158 million to the repair of charter schools and nothing to the repair of the neighborhood schools. Quote from this article:

The final budget deal included $158 million earmarked for charter school building maintenance and repairs.

It is so very sad that Florida legislators are taking away the powers of the voters. The neighborhood schools educate the majority of the kids. If we want to fully fund the neighborhood schools, then the voters should be able to make that choice. We keep hearing that charter schools save us money by paying teachers less money and offering fewer benefits. So why do the charter schools need the additional funds provided in HB 7123 (mentioned in this article) and the $158 million earmarked in the budget?

This is what I would prefer:

Public money ONLY goes to the neighborhood schools. Everyone is involved in making the neighborhood schools GREAT!  The grounds of the school are kept beautiful and available as use as a park during non-school hours. Plenty of funding for music, art, debate club, quality science and math, tutors, social workers, mental health counselors. Each school has resources to successfully assimilate a wide diversity of students. Anti-discrimination rules (mentioned in 1000.05 of the Florida Statute) and anti-bullying rules are addressed via education and counseling.

What do you prefer?

Did people in Florida intentionally allow pro-voucher candidates to win? IF even some Floridians want our tax dollars to be funding religious schools, why? What is their goal? How can we compromise without hurting our children?

In my view private schools receiving taxpayer money should (at a minimum) follow the nondiscrimination rules of 1000.05. 

HB 741 hasn’t been added to the statutes yet, so this is the 2018 version of Florida Statute 1000.05 (2)(a)​:​

Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public K-20 education is prohibited. No person in this state shall, on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any public K-20 education program or activity, or in any employment conditions or practices, conducted by a public educational institution that receives or benefits from federal or state financial assistance.

HB 741 (new anti-discrimination rules for public schools) was passed unanimously in the house and the senate.   Why didn’t the legislators make it clear that HB 741 and Florida Statute 1000.05 should be applied to ALL schools receiving public funds either directly or indirectly? 
The new governor said
“For me, if the taxpayer is paying for the education, it’s public education…”  
The above is a quote from this article.  BUT what does that mean exactly? Anyone know? Does it mean the private schools receiving voucher money have to follow the rules of Florida Statute 1000.05? I am guessing that Representative Fine’s HB 741 and Florida Statute 1000.05 will NOT apply to private schools receiving voucher money.  #750747 to SB 7070 was not even allowed for consideration.  Excerpt (from not even considered for a vote proposal) #750747:
—An eligible private school shall NOT discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity,  national origin, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status and must comply with the provisions of s. 1000.05.

In my view, the legislators should have passed #750747 so that private schools receiving taxpayer money would be required to  follow the nondiscrimination rules of 1000.05. 

$91.1 billion state budget for 2019-20.
The budget includes $250,000 for legal fees for the state Department of Education. House Appropriations Chairman Travis Cummings, a Clay County Republican, says the money could be used by the department to defend expected legal challenges of the Legislature’s recent decision to expand the use of publicly funded vouchers to send students to religious schools.

Step Up for Students is profiting from vouchers. They are using taxpayer money to get  voters to the voting booth and vote for pro-voucher candidates.  This is a quote from a 2017 article (and the legislators increased the funding this year):

In all, Florida has a nearly $1 billion voucher system that allows certain children to leave public schools for private ones. Step Up will earn about $18.4 million off the vouchers this year [2017].  Step Up is is a chief advocate for school vouchers.  Step Up helps write the laws that govern vouchers which by design don’t require private schools to have certified teachers, curriculum that follows Florida’s academic standards or facilities with modern technology or textbooks. 

Quote from a 2017 article (when religious schools got the voucher money via the tax credit scheme):

Like many of the Christian schools that take state voucher money, TDR uses one of a handful of popular curricula that, as one administrator explained, teach Bible-based history and science, including creationism. 

Paraphrased from article:

Florida dumps another $130 million into wild west of unregulated, unaccountable voucher schools. Sullivan and the rest of her GOP peers keep dodging standards. 

The GOP dominated legislature gave $158 million to the repair of charter schools and nothing to the repair of the neighborhood schools. Quote from this article:

The final budget deal included $158 million earmarked for charter school building maintenance and repairs.

This is outrageous also. This is the PECO budget last year:

Maintenance, Repair, Renovation and Remodeling Charter Schools $145 million

I do hope this causes people to NOT re-elect Speaker of the House Oliva. This bill that he just pushed and got passed takes away voters’ powers. This bill HB 7123 would have even retroactively changed what the Palm Beach County voters approved.  Quote from article:

House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami, mandated that extra funds raised through a referendum would be shared with charter schools, instead of what Palm Beach County recently did in requiring new taxes go only to traditional public schools.

I sent an email before they voted on HB 7123:

———- Forwarded message ———
Subject: HB 7123
To: <bryan.avila@myfloridahouse.gov>, <kimberly.daniels@myfloridahouse.gov>, <tracie.davis@myfloridahouse.gov>, <jason.fischer@myfloridahouse.gov>, <clay.yarborough@myfloridahouse.gov>, <cord.byrd@myfloridahouse.gov>, <gibson.audrey@flsenate.gov>
Representative Avila,

Thank you for suggesting this Amendment No. 743867 Approved For Filing: 5/3/2019 7:45:10 PM that reads as follows:  “,,, discretionary operating millages levied by school districts, apply to such levies authorized by a vote of the electors on or after July 1, 2019.”

Why don’t you also suggest an amendment that allows the voters to vote on referendums that will increase property taxes but the generated funds will ONLY go to the neighborhood schools? We keep hearing that charter schools save us money. So why do they need the additional funds? Please let the voters decide. Please don’t take away the powers of the voters. The neighborhood schools educate the majority of the kids. I am also hoping that the legislators will expand the community school concept for the neighborhood schools.

Going forward, no one should use the word “public” schools since the definition is no longer clear. We now have neighborhood schools, charter schools, and private schools receiving public money either directly or indirectly via the tax credit scheme. Governor DeSantis blurred the definition of public education with this statement: “If the taxpayer is paying for education, it’s public education …” ,

Thanks,
Concerned Florida taxpayer living in Jacksonville

Well….at least this part is good news.  Quote from the final version of HB 7123 that passed, i.e. at least it didn’t retroactively change already passed referendums.

485 Section 17. The provisions of this act relating to s.
486 1011.71, Florida Statutes, amending the use of certain voted
487 discretionary operating millages levied by school districts,
488 apply to such levies authorized by a vote of the electors on or
489 after July 1, 2019.

Another EXTRA going to charter schools. Even if the school district chooses to NOT arm their teachers, a charter school can still opt to receive the taxpayer money to arm their teachers.  It is lines 224 to 238 that talks about the taxpayer paying charter schools to bring guns into the classrooms.  I find it weird that they call their “bring guns into the classrooms” the guardian program. Lines 224 to 238 of SB 7030:

A charter school governing board in a school district that has not voted, or has declined, to implement a guardian program may request the sheriff in the county to establish a guardian program for the purpose of training the charter school employees. If the county sheriff denies the request, the charter school governing board may contract with a sheriff that has established a guardian program to provide such training. …. The sheriff conducting the training pursuant to subparagraph 2. will be reimbursed for screening-related and training-related costs and for providing a one-time stipend of $500 to each school guardian who participates in the school guardian program

More information about it: http://folioweekly.com/stories/will-the-taxpayer-be-liable-if-a-gun-in-the-classroom-causes-harm,21373

We need to FULLY fund the neighborhood schools in Florida before we fund charter schools and subsidize tuition at private schools.  Quote from article:

Education Week tracks per-pupil spending.  Florida spends $9,737. Vermont spends  $20,795.  Investing in students works. Kids from the best-funded schools, mostly in the Northeast, tend to score highest on national tests and get admitted to top universities.

 

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