How Do We Prevent Hate Crimes?

Did you know that all publicly funded schools are not required to obey the following two Florida statutes dealing with nondiscrimination and tolerance? Currently only the district-run schools are required to follow both.

**Excerpt from f.s.1000.05—
Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, religion, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public K-20 education is prohibited.

**Excerpt from f.s. 1003.42 (g)—
[a required course that will teach] …… the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and an examination of what it means to be a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society and for nurturing and protecting democratic values and institutions.

There are two bills before our Florida Senate (with companion bills in the House) that will help correct the problem:

**SB 184 (HB 91) will make clear that f.s. 1003.42(g) must apply to charter schools and private schools receiving voucher money in addition to the district run schools.

**SB 56 (HB 45) will make clear that private schools can’t receive voucher money if they discriminate against the minorities mentioned in f.s. 1000.05.

Our state Constitution requires free public schools for the children of Florida, but our elected officials are not consistent with what they mean by “public schools.” Many of our laws defined the rules for “public schools” at a time when the term meant only the neighborhood schools. If our Florida Legislature is going to continue to give our taxpayer dollars to charter schools and private schools, then those schools need to be required to follow the same nondiscrimination laws that our neighborhood schools must follow.

The organization that administers Florida’s growing array of voucher programs — Step Up For Students — insists it has no legal basis to deny voucher money to private schools that discriminate against minority groups.

SB 56 will give Step-Up-For-Students the legal basis to deny voucher money to private schools that discriminate against the minority groups mentioned in f.s. 1000.05.

A Florida statute— 1002.33 (16)—already demands charter schools follow the nondiscrimination statute. In other words, SB 56 will make it so all publicly funded schools are forbidden from discriminating against the minority groups mentioned in f.s. 1000.05.

Florida Education Commissioner Corcoran in his letter to a superintendent about the teaching of the Holocaust mentioned “public schools” twice. His letter was concerning f.s. 1003.42 (g). The way I read his letter, he thinks it is an important course. However, f.s. 1003.42 (g) only applies to the district-run schools. SB 184 (if it passes) will require any school receiving public funds to follow f.s. 1003.42(g).

If legislators are going to continue to use your tax dollars to fund charter schools and private schools, then those schools need to follow the same nondiscrimination laws that neighborhood schools must follow. The nondiscrimination laws should apply to all publicly funded schools.

References and suggestions for further reading

Ref 1 Article IX in Florida’s Constitution

Excerpt:  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

Ref 2 Articles about how private schools receiving taxpayer funded vouchers discriminate.

Ref 3 Corcoran’s letter about the Holocaust course

Ref 4 Articles about the necessity for teaching the Holocaust

Ref 6 Quote from article: “The medical community has long concluded that homosexuality is largely genetically-driven, not a matter of choice.”

Ref 7 HB 741 passed last legislative session unanimously. The discussion of the bill called antisemitism discussed the teaching of the holocaust. It also added religion to the list in f.s. 1000.05.

Ref 8 Florida’s Tax Credit Scheme allows some businesses to divert dollar for dollar their tax liability money to a private school. Read more:

Ref 9 More about HB 91 and SB 184:

Ref 10 Quote from MOSH curator Paul Bourcie:
“…We’re seeing domestic terrorism happening to all kinds of people branded as the Other. We see systems in place that put certain communities at a disadvantage. Can it be that we’re looking at something systemic that hearkens back to the racial violence of the past?”,21834


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