A Rally in Support of Public Schools

Rally begins 8 am on September 20th. I will have posters to share. Bring your own or borrow one of my posters.

Details at this link:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/protest-rally-fl-board-of-education-meeting-in-duval-stop-harming-public-schools-tickets-7210080444

 I will have 5 choices to share with people who didn’t bring their own poster:

1. If the rules aren’t necessary, why make any school follow them? If they are necessary, why are you exempting charter schools and private schools that receive voucher money?

2. Place a lien on property receiving public funds so the money can be recouped if the charter school closes.

3. Money is what made a difference in Jefferson County. Don’t starve our neighborhood schools

4. Support SB 56: A 2020 non-discrimination bill

5. Florida Statute 1003.42 (g) should apply to all publicly funded schools including private schools receiving voucher money.

Extra information about the posters.

Poster 2:
Florida Statute 1002.33 says “district school board property,” but what if the building and land are owned by private investors even though the public funded the purchase? We need legislation that says that any private investor, receiving funds to build or renovate privately owned buildings, must agree to a lien on the property so the school district can recoup the tax money in the event the charter school closes and/or the property is sold.
Even a supporter of charter schools has called for claw back provisions. A caller asks around minute 28 in the podcast at the below link: “What will happen to the profits if the building and land are sold?” Mr. Chartrand dodges the question, but Ms. Miller says there should be claw back provisions. Also please listen starting at minute 42 when the interviewer questions Chartrand’s dedication to quality education based on his actions when he was chair of Florida’s Board of Education.
https://news.wjct.org/post/81919-democrats-call-investigation-mayors-office-jax-civic-council-cole-pepper

Poster 3:
Quote from this article:
What’s obscured in the misleading narrative, though, is that Somerset’s new charter schools in Jefferson County have had millions of dollars more to work with than what was previously available to the traditional public school district there.
https://chartered.wlrn.org/millions-difference-somerset-charters/

Poster 4:
Florida Senator Darryl Rouson introduced SB 56 for the 2020 legislative session. The bill will add the following language to the Florida statutes (f.s.):
A private school participating in an educational scholarship program … may not deny enrollment to a student based on the student’s race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity;

Poster 5:
Excerpts from Florida Statute 1003.42 Required instruction.—

(1) Each district school board shall provide all courses required …
(2) Members of the instructional staff of the public schools … shall teach efficiently and faithfully, using the books and materials required that meet the highest standards for professionalism and historical accuracy …
(g) The history of the Holocaust (1933-1945), the systematic, planned annihilation of European Jews and other groups by Nazi Germany, a watershed event in the history of humanity,to be taught in a manner that leads to an investigation of human behavior, an understanding of 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.

public education

Tell your state representative to support SB 56

The organization that administers Florida’s growing array of voucher programs — Step Up For Students — insists it doesn’t want private schools to discriminate against minority groups, but it has no legal basis to deny those schools voucher money. ref 1

Florida Senator Darryl Rouson introduced SB 56 for the 2020 legislative session. The bill will add the following language to the Florida statutes (f.s.):

A private school participating in an educational scholarship program … may not deny enrollment to a student based on the student’s race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity;

I hope this strong statement in Florida Education Commissioner Corcoran’s letter  ​(​ ref ​2)​  means he will be supportive of Senator Rouson’s bill:

For my part, I intend to exercise all avenues afforded to me through Florida statutes and rules to investigate and act. I will swiftly, and to the limits of my office and resources, investigate and prosecute any individuals who threaten the equity and cultural sensitivity of the educational experience of our public schools.

The term “public schools” as was used in the Florida Education Commissioner’s letter has become blurred with the proliferation of taxpayer money funding charter schools and private schools. Going forward, we need to make clear which regulations only our neighborhood schools need to follow and which regulations apply to all schools receiving public money either directly or indirectly via the tax credit scheme.

In addition to urging your legislator and the Education Commissioner to support SB 56, please also urge them to require Florida Statute 1003.42 (g) to apply to any school receiving public funds. Florida Statute 1003.42(g) requires the teaching of a course that will lead to an understanding of 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.

Also please urge your legislator to introduce legislation that will make clear that freedom of religion laws don’t give one person priority in legal disputes in a way that harms another.

Ref 1 https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/editorials/os-op-florida-vouchers-disciminate-gay-students-20190706-3qbgvqro6jcd7of6hf4c4b3eim-story.html

Ref  2 http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/35/urlt/HolocaustLetter-July2019.pdf

Ref 3 https://www.adl.org/blog/empowering-educators-to-discuss-hard-topics

Ref 4 http://www.flholocausteducationtaskforce.org/classroom-resources/

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

https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2019/02/15/gov-ron-desantis-reveals-plan-to-eliminate-scholarship-wait-list/

Spread the word: Tell the City Council to #Let the People Vote

The website ourduvalschools.org will answer a lot of people’s questions.

All publicly funded schools (except private schools receiving taxpayer money via vouchers authorized by the state legislators) will receive the referendum’s dedicated revenue source to be used as follows:

  • Renovations, repairs, or rebuild based on age and condition of the taxpayer owned building.
  • Enhanced safety and security based on a per-square-foot formula.
  • Replace portable buildings with permanent safer buildings.

Here is why I don’t simply use the term “public schools.” In days gone by, “public schools” meant only the neighborhood schools. Now some people include charter schools in the definition.  (ref 1) Governor DeSantis recently included private schools, funded by vouchers, when he used the term “public schools.”

I applaud Council Member Carlucci  for being a leader and urging his colleagues to do the right thing and let the people vote. (ref 3) I believe the people will vote to give the school board a dedicated revenue stream to repair the schools. My belief is not without evidence, a poll said 83% of the people would vote yes on the referendum. (Ref 2)

Here is the link to a radio interview with Chartrand and Miller. I post this interview because Chartrand and Miller are part of a group called Civic Council. They say on this interview that they know the neighborhood schools need money for repairs. However, Chartrand is complaining that the school board hasn’t given more money to a charter school that he has money invested in. A caller asks around minute 28: “What will happen to the profits if the building and land, that house the charter school, that you’ve invested in should be sold?” Notice that both Chartrand and Miller dodge the question. Also please listen starting at minute 42 when Melissa Ross questions Chartrand’s dedication to quality education. The point is:  be careful if you hear them criticizing the school board’s plan.
https://news.wjct.org/post/81919-democrats-call-investigation-mayors-office-jax-civic-council-cole-pepper

Quote from an article stating that when the budget was finalized the neighborhood schools got zero PECO funding:

The final budget deal for PECO projects includes the $158 million lawmakers earmarked for charter school building maintenance and repairs, $76 million for higher-education construction projects, and $1.5 million in recurring funds to the Department of Education to develop a two-year workforce program that would assist individuals aged 22 or older to get a high school diploma and career technical skills.

ref 1 http://www.integrityflorida.org/the-hidden-costs-of-charter-school-choice-privatizing-public-education-in-florida/

ref 2   83% (.49 +.34) support the sales tax increase . That’s amazing!  The sales tax increase will be $1.50 per month (if you spend $3,600 a year on taxable items per year) in order to give the school board a dedicated revenue stream to repair the schools. https://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/duval-county/unf-poll-voters-support-half-cent-sales-tax-to-benefit-schools

Ref 3 Matt Carlucci on First Coast Connect https://news.wjct.org/post/72219-councilman-matt-carlucci-if-you-want-make-god-laugh-cole-pepper

As far as questions about which schools will be closed, renovated, or rebuilt; you can find the details and the reasoning at “see the plan” at this link:
https://www.ourduvalschools.org/

The School District’s Superintendent has answered the city council members’ questions. You can read the Superintendent’s answers  within the article at this link:
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190731/school-board-answers-city-councils-laundry-list-of-referendum-questions

City Council Committee meeting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jTDGdiAfI0

Urge City Council President Scott Wilson to Call a Special Meeting to Ask the City Council to Let the People Vote

Mike Hogan, Duval Supervisor of Elections, was quoted in a news article (ref 6) as saying he could get the school board’s referendum on a 2019 ballot if the Jacksonville City Council would let him know by August. Time is running out for 2019. Please urge the city council to let the people vote in 2019.

The state legislature has steadily been reducing their capital outlay funding to the school districts. Most counties have, therefore, passed referendums giving their school districts a dedicated revenue source for capital outlay. Duval County needs to do it in 2019 so the repairs and security enhancements can begin in 2020. The repairs are needed now. Ref 7

All publicly funded schools (except private schools receiving taxpayer money via vouchers authorized by the state legislators) will receive the referendum’s dedicated revenue source to be used as follows:

  1. Renovations, repairs, or rebuild based on age and condition of the taxpayer owned building.
  2. Enhanced safety and security based on a per-student and per-square-foot formula.
  3. Replace portable buildings with permanent safer buildings.

Here is why I don’t simply use the term “public schools.” In days gone by, “public schools” meant only the neighborhood schools. Now some people include charter schools in the definition. Charter schools are getting a great deal of money from our local, state and federal policy makers, but there are barely any safeguards to protect the taxpayers’ interest. But that’s an issue for another article. (ref 19) Governor DeSantis recently included private schools, funded by vouchers, when he used the term “public schools.”

I feel passionate about the school board’s referendum because I am grateful for my public education. I want kids to have the same or better opportunities than I had. Don’t we all want the best for the kids in our community? My dad was in the Navy so I went to a number of public schools throughout the country. The local neighborhood school is part of my utopian vision of liberty and justice for all.

When I was listening to City Council Member Matt Carlucci on the July 22 episode of First Coast Connect (ref 1), I was thinking of the The Andy Griffith Show. One of the public schools I attended was on a navy base. The kids in the school were a variety of colors even in 1965. So when I think of The Andy Griffith Show, I don’t think of a community of all white people. I think of a community of people all trying to get along, all trying to be polite, all wanting the best for all the children of the community. Matt Carlucci was polite and cordial as he spoke of the need to make all our schools great for all the children of our community.

I applaud Council Member Carlucci, a Republican, for being a leader and urging his colleagues to do the right thing and let the people vote. I believe the people will vote to give the school board a dedicated revenue stream to repair the schools. My belief is not without evidence, a poll said 83% of the people would vote yes on the referendum. Ref 5

I find it sad that some on the city council are putting up roadblocks to getting the school buildings repaired. For example, some city council members asked questions, at the city council meetings, they could have asked months ago when the community meetings were announced by the school board. To his credit, City Council President Scott Wilson finally asked all the city council members to send their questions to OGC who would compile them and forward the questions to the Superintendent and the School Board. The Times Union put the list in the cloud for all, who cared, to read.  Ref 3

Some of the questions on the list don’t appear to be in good faith. For example, one of the council members asks about all the lawsuits that have been brought due to desegregation. If the council member’s goal is to alert the public to the past and present misdeeds of elected government officials, then wouldn’t it be better for her to write an op-ed piece? I don’t see how her question is relevant to the school board’s referendum. Couldn’t her staff do the research about those lawsuits? Why ask the school board to do the research?

Some of the questions on the list indicate many city council members want charter schools to take a more prominent role in the education of our children. The charter school movement was begun as a way to allow teachers to experiment with various teaching methods that, if proven successful, could be later used in the neighborhood schools. But the charter school movement has changed since its humble beginnings. Can’t we make all the neighborhood schools great? Can’t various choices (vocational, college-prep, teaching styles, etc) be incorporated into the neighborhood schools? Duplicate education systems, charter school and the neighborhood schools, are more expensive. Ref 10 I know some parents love the charter school where their children attend, but we need to increase the safeguards against abuse (financial and lack of educational standards) before we let charter schools increase in number. Also, what will happen to the neighborhood schools if the taxpayers are unwilling to fund a duplicate parallel system? Isn’t it better to increase the choices within the neighborhood school?

Please google “profits in the charter school industry.” Ref 17 I hope that will make you outraged and cause you to question the desire of some city leaders who are holding the school board’s referendum hostage, demanding the school board change their referendum to “promise charter schools an upfront $150 million payment.” Ref 11

A concerned citizen, David, at a July 16th city council committee meeting, spoke during the audience comment period of his experience as a young boy in Alabama. Tears come to my eyes as I recall him repeating his mother’s words: “That is not equal.”  My vision (and apparently David’s) is for all the schools to be superb, with the goal being for all the kids to have a chance at great opportunities in life. Why won’t some on the city council allow the voters to give the school board the revenue stream to do what I believe they want to do, i.e. make all our schools great?

One of City Council Member Cumber’s questions (on the list) is relevant only if she doesn’t plan to let the people vote in November 2019. ref 4 A November 2019 date would be preferable, but if the city council won’t vote in time, then the December date would be the next best alternative. For the repairs to begin in 2020, the referendum needs to be approved by the voters in 2019.

Another one of Council Member Cumber’s questions was about the city’s credit rating, which is pertinent to a bond issue not a dedicated revenue source. Can the city council control the school board’s bond requests? If yes, then that is when she should be asking her questions about the effect on the city’s credit rating. ref 8

 The School District’s Superintendent has answered the city council members’ questions (on the list) including Council Member Cumber’s questions about the city’s credit rating. You can read the Superintendent’s answers at this link.  Ref 9

As far as questions about which schools will be closed, renovated, or rebuilt; you can find the details and the reasoning at “see the plan” at this link:  https://www.ourduvalschools.org/

Anyone can ask questions of our elected officials, but many of the questions on the city council’s list weren’t relevant to the desire to get a dedicated revenue stream for the repair and increased safety of our neighborhood schools. Some of the questions on the list make the city council member look like they want to be part of the elected school board. The voters elected the school board members and it is frustrating the city council is trying to stop the school board from doing what they were elected to do.

The city council should let the voters vote on the school board’s referendum on the November 2019 ballot as requested. The city council needs to act NOW for Mike Hogan, Duval Supervisor of Election, to do his part.

 

 

Ref 1 Matt Carlucci on First Coast Connect https://news.wjct.org/post/72219-councilman-matt-carlucci-if-you-want-make-god-laugh-cole-pepper

Ref 2 Matt Carlucci speaking at July 16th City Council Committee meeting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jTDGdiAfI0

Ref 3 The list of city council members’ questions that they sent to the school board

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6219594-2019-380-Council-Member-Questions.html

Ref 4  Florida Statute Title 14, Chap. 212.054 (7)(a)

The governing body of any county levying a discretionary sales surtax or the school board of any county levying the school capital outlay surtax authorized by s. 212.055(6) shall notify the department within 10 days after final adoption by ordinance or referendum of an imposition, termination, or rate change of the surtax, but no later than November 16 prior to the effective date. …

Ref 5  83% (.49 +.34) support the sales tax increase . That’s amazing!  The sales tax increase will be $1.50 per month (if you spend $3,600 a year on taxable items per year) in order to give the school board a dedicated revenue stream to repair the schools. https://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/duval-county/unf-poll-voters-support-half-cent-sales-tax-to-benefit-schools

Ref 6 https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/jacksonville/all-sides-met-on-duval-county-school-sales-tax-issue

ref 7 https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190531/nate-monroe-text-messages-detail-daily-breakdowns-needed-repairs-in-duval-schools

ref 8 https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190719/nate-monroe-schools-dont-hurt-city-credit-ratings-city-leaders-do

ref 9  https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190731/school-board-answers-city-councils-laundry-list-of-referendum-questions

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6228491-City-Council-Response-073119.html

https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3A8d9325bc-73cf-49bd-9d01-b7351e5408bf

ref 10 You can google this and get other articles that back up my statement

https://gadflyonthewallblog.com/2019/06/15/charter-schools-will-always-waste-money-because-they-duplicate-services/

ref 11 https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190730/is-150-million-payment-to-charters-needed-to-pass-duval-schools-tax-referendum

ref 12 This is what will be on our OFFICIAL BALLOT if the city council will let us vote:

To upgrade aging schools through repairs and modernization, to keep schools safe and to continue to promote a conducive learning environment, to improve technology, and to replace existing or build new schools, shall the Duval County School Board be authorized to levy a 15-year half-cent sales surtax, with expenditures based upon the Surtax Capital Outlay Plan, and monitored by an independent citizens committee?

​____  For the Half-Cent Tax

____  Against the Half-Cent Tax

ref 13 Quote from below link:

Around the state, even in some heavily conservative counties, voters are opening their wallets to lend extra support to their schools. Of 10 local education funding measures on the Aug. 28 ballot, every single one passed.  …  For some, the widening effort suggests the public may be warming to the argument that Florida schools need better funding. … “The citizens recognize that the Florida public schools are the backbone of our future,” said Andrea Messina, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, “They want to invest in quality schools. If we let our educational system and our facilities decay, that will have a negative impact on Florida’s economy and on the citizens of Florida.”

https://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/More-Florida-counties-are-voting-to-raise-local-taxes-for-schools-Is-it-a-message-to-lawmakers-_171522390

ref 14 If you read the article at ref 11, don’t get tripped up like I did. Florida Coalition of School Board Members is a pro-charter and pro-voucher and organization that does NOT represent the majority of school board members. Here is more about them:  https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2018/11/26/whither-the-florida-school-board-members-coalition/

ref 15 Go to this link: https://www.ourduvalschools.org/see-the-plans for details about the school board’s referendum. Scroll down to the end of that page and click on “View the original master plans.” Then scroll down and click on “Download the District 3 PDF” [or whatever school district you’re looking for] The pdf that will appear on your screen will tell you when the Community Meeting took place, and the utilization of various neighborhood schools

Ref 16 I wonder if the lawsuit mentioned in this article (http://folioweekly.com/stories/enough-is-enough,21674 ) can go fast enough to get the referendum on a 2019 ballot.

Ref 17 Google “profits, real estate, charter schools” and you’ll get many suggestions, here is one:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergreene/2018/08/13/how-to-profit-from-your-non-profit-charter-school/#304656b83354

Quoted from this article:
Two South Florida real estate investment companies, ESJ Capital Partners and MG3 Developer Group, have sold two charter school properties in Florida to their operator for a combined $45M. “[ESJ Capital Partners] has become a nationwide leader on investing in alternative assets within the educational arena, providing a bridge for charter school management organizations to eventually own the properties they operate in,” an ESJ spokesperson wrote in an email.
https://www.bisnow.com/south-florida/news/economy/florida-charter-school-real-estate-98192

Charter Schools Used Shady Real Estate Deals to Shamelessly Enrich Themselves.
Quote from an article with that title:
Preston C. Green, Bruce D. Baker and Joseph O. Oluwole said the biggest way to grab seven-figure sums in the privatized education sphere was through shady real estate transactions.
Here is the link to the paper by Preston C. Green, Bruce D. Baker and Joseph O. Oluwole:
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2924886

ref 18 Article at this link talks about a great speech by Republican Thomas Lee where he says the charter industry said they could teach kids for less, but they keep asking for more and more money.  He said “enough is enough.”
http://accountabaloney.com/index.php/2019/05/06/hb7123-is-a-bridge-too-far-and-president-lee

ref 19 http://www.integrityflorida.org/the-hidden-costs-of-charter-school-choice-privatizing-public-education-in-florida/

Folio lets people submit articles on their website and provides a link to the submission:

http://folioweekly.com/detail.html?sub_id=21695

Charter schools are publicly funded schools.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools.

Note that the below excerpt from the statute says “district school board property,” but what if the building and land are owned by private investors even though the public funded the purchase?  Are any charter schools housed in a district school board building?

Florida Statute about charter schools:
http://leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=1000-1099/1002/Sections/1002.33.html

Quotes from Florida Statute 1002.33:

In the event a charter school is dissolved or is otherwise terminated, all district school board property and improvements, furnishings, and equipment purchased with public funds shall automatically revert to full ownership by the district school board, subject to complete satisfaction of any lawful liens or encumbrances.

(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:

Let the school board do their job

I was sickened by Mr. Diamond’s speech. Did people that voted for him understand his views? A.G. Gancarski quotes in FlaPolitics:

Diamond said “The only place I see kids getting a chance is a charter school, not a public school.”

Paraphrased from that same article:

The School Board reached out in April to begin the OPPAGA audit process. Can anyone get an answer as to why the state has delayed the process? Chairwoman Lori Hershey is wondering if the city council or mayor’s office interfered. OPPAGA has not responded to requests for comment from the journalist.

Quote from a TU article:

… it’s also impossible for the mayor’s office to provide a concrete timeline for the mayor’s entire debt-financed capital construction budget. Just as it would be impossible for the School Board to provide concrete timelines for its renovation and rebuilding plans.

Quote from TU editorial:

If City Council and the School Board need to meet for an entire day to thrash out the issues — and to answer the seemingly inexhaustible list of questions that some City Council members apparently have — then they should do it. And they should do so in time for a sales tax vote to take place this year.

Quote from TU article:

Jones said during public comments in the Rules Committee meeting that as someone who previously served 28 years on the City Council, he has seen council members engage in maneuvers to disguise the real reason for opposition. He said charter school advocates want a dedicated funding source for charter schools from the sales tax. “Over 100,000 students are by choice attending traditional public schools, but yet we are being held hostage because we won’t share $250 million off the top to charter schools for the 16,000 [charter] students when many of our students are in schools that desperately are in need of safety [improvements] and repair,”

Quote from this June article:

According to the research lab, approximately 75 percent of Duval County registered voters support the proposed sales tax. That support is reportedly the strongest among registered Democrats (86 percent) but still garnered 60 percent of the support of registered Republicans.

Link to video where CM Carlucci asks that the questions be answered quickly so that the referendum can be put on a 2019 ballot:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/16cHpLLOTk8WJvwqw2MnwP0EKrbpzY1cD/view

How Do We Prevent Hate Crimes?

The organization that administers Florida’s growing array of voucher programs — Step Up For Students — insists it doesn’t want private schools to discriminate against minority groups but it has no legal basis to deny those schools voucher money. ref 1

 These two Florida Statutes (1000.05 and 1003.42) apply to public schools. F.S. 1000.05 prohibits discrimination against certain minority groups and 1003.42(g) aims to teach people to voluntarily not discriminate against those groups. So in my mind, those two Florida statutes are inextricably linked. Based on the above Step Up For Students’ quote, these statutes do not apply to private schools receiving voucher money. I hope to convince you that those two statutes should apply to private schools that receive public money.  In addition, I will suggest some ways that I think both of the statutes need to be tweaked.

Florida Senator Darryl Rouson plans to introduce a bill in the next legislative session (which is in 2020) that will prohibit private schools that accept state money from discriminating against certain minority groups. I hope this strong statement in Florida Education Commissioner Corcoran’s letter  ​(​ ref ​2)​  means he will be supportive of Senator Rouson’s bill:

For my part, I intend to exercise all avenues afforded to me through Florida statutes and rules to investigate and act. I will swiftly, and to the limits of my office and resources, investigate and prosecute any individuals who threaten the equity and cultural sensitivity of the educational experience of our public schools.

The term “public schools” as was used in the Florida Education Commissioner’s letter has become blurred with the proliferation of taxpayer money funding charter schools and private schools. Going forward, we need to make clear which regulations only our neighborhood schools need to follow and which regulations apply to all schools receiving public money either directly or indirectly via the tax credit scheme.

Please urge your legislator and the Education Commissioner to pass legislation requiring that Florida Statutes 1000.05 and 1003.42 (g) apply to any school receiving public funds. Florida Statute 1000.05 says that 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. Florida Statute 1003.42(g) requires the teaching of a course that will lead to an understanding of 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

In my view, this is crucial. The citizens of Florida should want every child to understand the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and examine what it means to be a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society.

During an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) made the claim that President Trump emboldens racism and anti-Semitism with his rhetoric. Counties that hosted a 2016 Trump rally saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes according to a recent news article. Ref 4 Correlation doesn’t mean causation. However, it seems common sense to believe that the speech of teachers and other authority figures can have an effect on the vulnerable.

The Florida Education Commissioner’s letter (which I quoted above) was in response to a principal that said he tried to stay neutral regarding the holocaust and slavery. A recent discussion within our Florida legislature regarding HB 741 (a bill called anti-Semitism) offered the hypothesis that denial of the holocaust was linked to hate crimes. People have been outraged that the principal (who was the antagonist in the Florida Education Commissioner’s letter) wanted to stay neutral about historical facts. Which parents were forcing this principal to feel he had to stay neutral about the holocaust and slavery?  ADL has seen this problem across the country and is developing a course to help teachers and administrators deal with this pressure from students and parents. Ref 3 If you were the principal and a parent came to you and said “I do not want my kid to attend a class that says the Holocaust is a historical fact”, how would you handle it? The principal (that made the news) could have used some of the ADL training when he was dealing with parents that didn’t want to expose their children to factual historical data.

How do you feel about hate crimes? What minority groups should be included in the hate crimes laws? Do you think certain minority groups need more protections than others? Religion was added to the list in Florida Statute 1000.05 in 2019 but in 2018 the statute read:

Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status against a student or an employee … is prohibited.

Do you think gender identity and sexual orientation should be added to the list?  If not, do you realize that sexual orientation and gender identity is no more a choice than race, ethnicity, or national origin? Do you realize these minority groups are the subject of hate crimes?  Do you think we can prevent these hate crimes?  If you think they can be prevented, then how? Is the teaching of tolerance a key element of prevention?

I hope sexual orientation and gender identity will be added to Florida Statute 1000.05 which is the Florida statute that prohibits discrimination against certain minority groups in Florida’s public schools. F.S. 1000.05 needs to apply to all schools receiving public funds. Of course since religion was added to Florida Statute 1000.05 in 2019, the statute should also say that this freedom of religion law shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that it can be used to harm another. For example, if your religion says that slavery is ok, it doesn’t mean you can enslave someone. Perhaps you find the slavery example silly but I don’t know all the ways people might be tempted to use religious freedom laws to harm others. Adding the language is a safeguard against future unintended consequences. Even the Bible offers us examples. Here is one:

Leviticus 24:13-14

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him.

As the recent news about the principal in Palm Beach County reveals, we need clearer guidelines on how f.s. 1003.42 (g) should be implemented. The Florida Commissioner of Education reveals there are no clear guidelines to implement 1003.42 (g) when he asks in his letter ref  2  ” Please provide a detailed report of all that the schools in Palm Beach County are doing to fulfill this obligation”

The course requirements of 1003.42(g) should be taught in civics or history class every year. Each age group can learn something new. Once the student knows WW2 and the Holocaust and other atrocities happened, people may question how many times it needs to be taught again. BUT the broader part of 1003.42(g) is the teaching of what led to the Holocaust and how people were complacent. The course work should target a certain age group (Primary, Intermediate, Middle School, etc.) and the teacher should take into consideration the ages, reading level, and emotional maturity of the students. ref 5

Based on the next to the last paragraph of Corocran’s letter ref 2  , I would expect him to support Senator Rouson’s bill prohibiting private schools that accept state money from discriminating against people because of sexual orientation or gender identity. But would I be disappointed? Please contact the commissioner and all your representatives and ask them to

  1. Support legislation that will add sexual orientation and gender identity to f.s. 1000.05
  2. Support legislation that will make it clear that Florida Statutes 1003.42(g) and 1000.05 applies to all schools receiving public funds either directly or indirectly via the tax credit scheme.
  3. Add additional requirements that say elements of the course described at 1003.42(g) should be taught ever year.
  4. Add to Florida Statute 1000.05 wording that says that this freedom of religion law shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that it can be used to harm another.

Ref 1 https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/editorials/os-op-florida-vouchers-disciminate-gay-students-20190706-3qbgvqro6jcd7of6hf4c4b3eim-story.html

Ref  2 http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/35/urlt/HolocaustLetter-July2019.pdf

Ref 3 https://www.adl.org/blog/empowering-educators-to-discuss-hard-topics

Ref 4 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/22/trumps-rhetoric-does-inspire-more-hate-crimes/

Ref 5 http://www.flholocausteducationtaskforce.org/classroom-resources/

HB 741 https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00741

f.s. 1003.42 (g) http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View%20Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=1003.42&URL=1000-1099/1003/Sections/1003.42.html

f.s.1000.05 http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View%20Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=1000.05&URL=1000-1099/1000/Sections/1000.05.html

Florida’s Tax Credit Scheme allows some businesses to divert dollar for dollar their tax liability money to a private school. Read more:  https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2019/02/15/gov-ron-desantis-reveals-plan-to-eliminate-scholarship-wait-list/

Where I found the stoning quote: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Stoning

Please send this to your representatives in Florida’s Congress

Update: Yes! I agree! HB 91 and SB 184 was introduced for the 2020 legislative session.

https://www.gainesville.com/opinion/20190917/editorial-expand-study-of-holocaust-to-all-schools

HB 91 and SB 184 will require any school receiving public funds (either directly or indirectly) to follow Florida Statute 1003.42 (g).

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.

If legislators are going to continue giving our tax money to charters and private schools, then each law that spells out rules for the neighborhood school needs to explicitly say if the charter school and private school receiving voucher money has to follow that law also.

Governor DeSantis said any school receiving public funds is a public school.  What does he mean?  Does he mean that any school receiving public funds should be required to follow the same rules as the neighborhood school?

Thank you,

Please send this to your city council representative

I was shocked to hear about the terrible condition some of our school buildings are in.  I don’t understand why some on the city council are hesitating to let the school board put this on the ballot in November 2019.  The school board said they’d pay for the election out of their budget.

The philanthropic organization JPEF says the voters want the repairs to be made.   ref 1   Since the issue is clear cut, I don’t think massive super PAC money is needed to get this passed as was needed for Mayor Curry to get his sales tax increase passed to fix the pension debacle in August of 2016.

Please vote yes on 2019-380 which will allow the school board to put the referendum on the November 2019 ballot.

Hopefully philanthropists will donate money to make the neighborhood school grounds even more beautiful for our communities.  Beautiful buildings and beautiful parks add to our quality of life.

We need to start these repairs soon.  According to the website of the philanthropic organization JPEF , funding from the state has been decreasing over the years, and therefore Duval County Public Schools haven’t been able to accommodate the demand for building upgrades.  According to that same website, the Duval County School District is the only district in Florida that doesn’t have a dedicated revenue source from either impact fees or sales taxes. ref 2

Because state funding sources have decreased so significantly, there is not enough predictable funding to back a bond issue. If the voters vote yes on the referendum in November 2019, then the predictable dedicated revenue source will enable the district to issue bonds and accelerate work on the highest priority school projects. ref 3

Dr. Greene was hired as the superintendent because the elected school board members felt she had the skills to fix the problems.  And part of the equation was putting a referendum on the ballot.  Quote from a TU article:  School Board chairwoman Lori Hershey said “I have in my office several master plans that never got off the ground” because we need a dedicated revenue source to tackle the problems.

Thanks,

ref 1 https://www.jaxpef.org/news/teachers-and-parents-speak-out-on-public-schools:

ref 2 https://www.jaxpef.org/news/tax-referendum:

ref 3 https://www.ourduvalschools.org/

Do charter schools have to follow the same rules as neighborhood schools?

If politicians are going to keep giving our tax money to charters and private schools, then we need to explicitly spell out which regulations they must follow   Said another way: each law that spells out rules for the neighborhood school needs to explicitly say if the charter school and private school receiving voucher money has to follow it also

My understanding is Scott Shine and some of the lobbying groups he represents are pushing for the taxpayers to fund more charter schools.  Do charter schools and private schools that receive voucher money have to follow 1003.42? And if they don’t have to follow 1003.42, then are any state legislators pushing a bill for the next legislative session that will require any school receiving public funds (either directly or indirectly) to follow 1003.42?

I am glad this is part of the requirement in 1003.42:

(g) ……, to be taught in a manner that leads to an investigation of human behavior, an understanding of 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.

Here is how the statute describes schools that have to follow 1003.42:

1) Each district school board shall provide all courses required for middle grades promotion, high school graduation, and appropriate instruction designed to ensure that students meet State Board of Education adopted standards in the following subject areas: reading and other language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, foreign languages, health and physical education, and the arts.

(2) Members of the instructional staff of the public schools, subject to the rules of the State Board of Education and the district school board, shall teach efficiently and faithfully, using the books and materials required that meet the highest standards for professionalism and historic accuracy, following the prescribed courses of study, and employing approved methods of instruction, the following….

The more I read about Scott Shine, the more I wonder why Jacksonville City Council President Aaron Bowman appointed him to the Charter Revision Commission. I also wonder why more of the city council members didn’t vote to defer the vote on Shine’s confirmation so there would be time to investigate why Shine missed so many school board meetings when he was  being paid by the taxpayer to attend those meetings.

The community gets to elect the local school board members. We hope the elected school board members will be making the best decisions for our local schools. They need to budget for where to build new schools.  I find the below quote very troubling.  Does it mean Scott Shine wants the state to make decisions on how the school board spends funds to build new schools?

Quote from January 2019 https://news.wjct.org/post/former-duval-school-board-member-helps-launch-statewide-school-choice-movement:
Another policy change the trio (Scott Shine, Shawn Frost and Erika Donalds) want to make is to give the  responsibility to the state for approval of new charter schools.

 If my memory serves me correctly, a council member (at the rules committee meeting on June 4th) asked Scott Shine why he missed so many meetings when he was a school board member.  Mr. Shine answered that he only missed two meetings where votes took place.  Was he lying? Can you find out how many meetings he missed?