Who is the group that is trying to harm the public schools?

Governor has signed the bill

Since it passed, DeSantis has repeatedly mischaracterized what the bill does. He’s said the bill will stop young students from being “sexualized” in the classroom. Amendments offered by Democratic and Republican lawmakers to broaden the bill to include a prohibition on teaching young kids about all kinds of human sexuality — not just topics that appear to relate to LGBTQ Floridians — were roundly rejected by GOP lawmakers.

https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2022/03/28/desantis-signs-so-called-dont-say-gay-bill/

Excerpt from an Integrity Florida Report:

Some charter and school choice advocates are clear about their goal. The ultimate hope of many, as Milton Friedman wrote (see Page 8), is to bring about a transfer from government to private enterprise, in part by “enabling a private, for-profit industry to develop” in​ education.

https://www.integrityflorida.org/2018/09/17/the-hidden-cost-of-charter-school-choice/

This excerpt from that 2018 Integrity Florida Report caught my eye because the Florida legislature just passed SB 758 which will establish a statewide charter school authorizer:

The Florida Supreme Court removed from the November 2018 ballot a constitutional amendment that would have established a statewide charter school authorizer. Approval of that amendment would have added momentum for further charter school growth.​”

A March 21st letter to the TU mischaracterized HB 1557. If HB 1557 was really about banning discussion of sexual activity in grades K-3, then Senator Baxley would have changed his bill to include Senator Brandes’ amendment (which replaces the “don’t say gay” language with “don’t discuss sexual activity”). 

This is a great video that explains Brandes’ amendment that Baxley refused to include in his bill: 

You can listen to Senator Baxley’s words on the senate floor as well as in the committee meetings defending his bill. He clearly didn’t write the bill. Some group wrote it and got him to sponsor it. From his own words, it appears he agreed to sponsor it because he thinks it’s not OK to be gay. Of course, that’s incredibly sad. I find it comparable to saying “it’s not OK to be black or disabled or anything that’s different from me.

I posit that the real goal of HB 1557 (by the people who actually wrote the bill) is to harm the district-run schools because the bill doesn’t apply to charter or voucher funded private schools. Please take a look at the bill analysis (ref 9). The real goal of the bill is to harm the neighborhood and magnet schools by allowing parents to bring frivolous lawsuits based on the vague wording in the bill or at least that’s how it appears to me. A recent article in the New York Times (ref 10) clearly explained how the bill is vague and could lead to frivolous lawsuits.

If the bill was truly about the health and safety of the students, then it would apply to all publicly funded schools. Charter schools and voucher funded private schools are required to comply with health and safety laws.

I offer as support for my suggestion the wording in HB -1B signed by the Governor late in 2021 specifically exempting charter and voucher funded private schools. The real purpose (of HB-1B) is to allow Education Commissioner Corcoran to financially harm the district-run schools that followed CDC guidelines. Corcoran didn’t want to financially harm the charter or voucher funded private schools that also disobeyed Dr. Ladapo’s rule by following CDC guidelines. That’s how it seems to me.  IF it was really about the health of the students, wouldn’t it apply to ALL publicly funded schools?

HB 1557 as well as HB-1B are attempts at financially harming the schools run by the locally elected school boards rather than an actual health concern. They appear part of the movement to privatize our public school system. We must vote out these legislators who are trying to harm our neighborhood and magnet schools in their efforts to privatize public education.

References:

  1. March 21st letter to the editor that I mentioned in the first paragraph.
    https://www.jacksonville.com/story/opinion/letters/2022/03/21/letters-elementary-classrooms-not-place-sexual-subjects/7066651001/
  2. At minute 31 in the Appropriations committee meeting, Senator Gibson asked if HB 1557 (the Don’t Say Gay bill) covered charter schools. The bill sponsor, Senator Baxley, said he didn’t know and went to ask the staff. He came back and said it only applies to the traditional public schools. Senator Stargel, the chair of the Appropriations Committee, said Baxley was wrong–she said his bill covered the traditional and charter schools. I followed up with Senator Stargel asking her under what statute HB 1557 will apply to charter schools. She hasn’t replied to my email. The main Florida statute governing charter schools is f.s. 1002.33. It specifically says charter schools are exempt from statute chapters 1000-1013 (except a few covering such things as health, safety, and testing). During the public comment period of the committee meeting around the one hour and 36 minute mark, Senator Stargel again insisted the bill applied to the charter schools, but seemed to indicate it didn’t apply to voucher funded private schools. The bill’s language specifically mentions district schools (but not charter schools) so how does it apply to charter schools?  And if it does apply to charter schools because of its supposed health aspect, then it would also apply to voucher funded private schools according to f.s. 1002.421
    Link to the video of the committee meeting that I mentioned:

3.  F.S. 1002.421 reads in part as follows:
A private school participating in an educational scholarship program established pursuant to this chapter must
(g) Meet applicable state and local health, safety, and welfare laws, codes, and rules …

4.  HB 1557 references f.s. 1002.20 which uses the vague term public school and says:
K-12 student and parent rights.—Parents of public school students must receive accurate and timely information regarding their child’s academic progress and must be informed of ways they can help their child to succeed in school. K-12 students and their parents are afforded numerous statutory rights including, but not limited to, the following … 

5.  But notice that f.s. 1002.33 says 1002.20 doesn’t apply to charter schools.
F.S. 1002.33 reads in part:
(a) A charter school shall operate in accordance with its charter and shall be exempt from all statutes in chapters 1000-1013. However, a charter school shall be in compliance with the following statutes in chapters 1000-1013 ….   Those statutes pertaining to student health, safety, and welfare.

6. HB 1557 enrolled version:
https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2022/1557/BillText/er/PDF

7.  Charter schools and voucher funded private schools are supposed to comply with health and safety laws BUT the wording in HB -1B signed by the Governor late in 2021 specifically exempted charter and voucher funded private schools. The bill reads in part:
A district school board, a district school superintendent, an elected or appointed local official, or any district school board employee may not…

8.  F.S. 1014.04 appears to apply to all schools, not just publicly funded schools. I hope a journalist will do a deep dive on what “public school means” and which bills apply to ALL schools whether they are publicly funded or not.
1014.04 Parental rights.—
All parental rights are reserved to the parent of a minor child in this state without obstruction or interference from the state, any of its political subdivisions, any other governmental entity, or any other institution, including, but not limited to, all of the following rights of a parent of a minor child in this state

9.  Excerpt from the bill analysis for HB 1557 which does NOT say charter and voucher funded private schools BUT only district schools:
Bring an action against the school district to obtain a declaratory judgment that the school district procedure or practice violates the provision in the bill and seek injunctive relief. A court may award damages and must award reasonable attorney fees and court costs to a parent who receives declaratory or injunctive relief.

10. This article examines Florida’s HB 1557 and explains why it is vague and can lead to frivolous lawsuits:

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