Please send this to your representatives in Florida’s Congress

Please propose legislation that will require any school receiving public funds (either directly or indirectly) to follow Florida Statute 1003.42.

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?

What should you do about bullying?

First we’ll have to define “you” and “bullying” if we’re going to discuss my question.

Is making bigoted comments a form of bullying?

If yes, should you always say something?
Cute video:


Longer version:

Other things to cover in the discussion:

1. Quote from this article

I have written about workplace bullying and bullying in schools. The incidents that I’ve heard and written about have not involved bullying toward specific groups of people, such as ethnic minorities or gay or lesbian individuals (although we know that this occurs with greater frequency), but persons from all walks of life who are singled out as targets of bullies.

2. Quotes from this article:

America is a country that is comprised of a multitude of races, nationalities, religions, creeds and lifestyles. As long as there is mutual respect and tolerance, American citizens can live and prosper in peace. When religious intolerance begins to seep into our social lives, schools and business communities, the result could very well lead to discrimination and bullying. There is a fine line between proclaiming your religious faith and trying to impose that faith on others who do not share your views.

Helping kids to understand and identify bullying techniques early on in their lives is an important aspect of combating this problem. Young children, especially, should be encouraged to let their parents and teachers know when they are being harassed by other students. They should also be encouraged to expose cases of bullying when they see it happen to their peers.

Information about 1003.42

In 1994, the Florida Legislature passed the Holocaust Education Bill (SB 660) which amends Section 233.061 of the Florida Statutes (Chapter 94-14, Laws of Florida), relating to required instruction. The law requires all school districts to incorporate lessons on the Holocaust as part of public school instruction. The statute reads as follows:
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.

What do you think of this program to give voucher money to a kid that claims to have been bullied but leaves the bully in the public school? Why not spend money on reducing the bullying? Quote from this article:

The Florida Legislature passed a bill in 2018 that is the “first state-supported scholarship in America aimed at helping K-12 students victimized by bullying,” according to Step Up for Students [an organization that profits from administering state voucher programs].

A few quotes from this article

Bullying in schools, ranging from elementary to high school, has reached epidemic proportions. But bullying doesn’t stop there. Bullying in college, in the workplace, and against minority group members of all ages is rampant. …. What is being done about the bullying epidemic, and what can be done? … High-profile cases of bullied teens’ suicides, and now the instances of college bullying and hazing, are leading many schools to develop anti-bullying policies. … We need to rethink our attitudes toward bullying, and incivility in general. As parents, we need to ensure that we are not encouraging teasing and bullying behavior in our children. We need to support anti-bullying programs in our schools and workplaces. We simply need to be more respectful and tolerant of others, and of others’ differences. I find it ironic that the time, money, and energy spent on trying to stop gay marriage, is many times greater than the resources devoted to protecting LGBT persons from bullying. Resources:
http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/se/bullyres.asp
http://www.workplacebullying.org/

Duval County Public Schools Voluntary Half-Penny Sales Tax Referendum

A great link to look for information about the referendum for a dedicated revenue source for the neighborhood schools:

https://www.ourduvalschools.org/

A great article by Superintendent Green:

https://www.jacksonville.com/opinion/20190519/guest-column-superintendent-says-voters-should-decide-on-funding-new-school-facilities

The below is mostly copied from something a friend sent me.

I only made minor adjustments to what my friend sent me.  The difference in what I was sent and what is listed below is in these two bullet points:
Why not use impact fees to meet the district’s needs?  <==I hope we’ll also do impact fees at some future date so that’s how I changed that bullet point.
How much will this tax cost me?  <==I showed the calculation for what the increase would cost rather than just giving a number for an average household.

Duval County Public Schools Voluntary Half-Penny Sales Tax Referendum

Questions and Answers
How does support for Duval County Public Schools compare to other districts?
Tampa (Hillsborough County) was the latest county to invest in its students and schools through a local tax referendum. Orlando (Orange County) voters approved this voluntary tax a few years ago. Locally, St. Johns County is also supporting its schools with this optional half-penny, and Clay County Schools benefit from a similar, though slightly different tax. Many other smaller districts in Florida are choosing to invest in schools to better prepare their students and to compete for job growth through economic development.

Why is this voluntary half-penny sales tax being proposed?
The tax is being proposed because of three major issues facing the district.
1. Duval County’s school building are the oldest in the state, and old buildings (just like old homes and old cars) require significant maintenance and upkeep.
2. The funding previously received from the State of Florida to support the repair, renovation and construction of schools has been cut significantly over the last decade. Maintenance and facility challenges are already causing major operational issues at schools, and unless new revenue is created, these operational issues – including closing classroom and possibly closing schools – will continue to increase.
3. Most important, high quality school facilities have a significant impact on student achievement. Many other districts here on the First Coast and throughout Florida are investing in their schools to ensure their students are best prepared with skills and capabilities to compete for today’s much more advanced jobs.

How do improved school buildings contribute to student achievement?
Quality school buildings have been found to contribute to student achievement in several ways:
• They provide light, acoustics, and air quality that directly impact learning.
• They offer inviting spaces that emanate a sense of warmth and community that enhances student self-belief and desire to be in school.
• They provide technology that optimizes instruction and prepares students for today’s workplace.
• They communicate to children that their community values education.
• They are built to maximize student security and safety in today’s unpredictable world. When students know they are in a safe space, they can better focus on learning.

Can’t the district borrow money by issuing bonds?
The district issued bonds and continues to pay that debt for schools such as Atlantic Coast High School and Waterleaf Elementary School, which were built many years ago. To take on debt through bonds, the bonds must be backed with a predictable source of revenue. Because state funding sources have decreased so significantly, there is not enough predictable funding to back a bond issue. If the voluntary half-penny tax is successful, that predictable revenue will enable the district to issue bonds and accelerate work on the highest priority school projects.

Why not use impact fees to meet the district’s needs?
Impact fees can only be used in schools where future development would have an impact on expected school enrollment. Many of the schools that need the most attention are not located in areas where development is occurring. Impact fees could not be assigned to the already approved new development projects retroactively.  Certainly I hope that the city council will consider impact fees BEFORE they approve NEW developments that will require the building of new schools.

Why should I support this tax, especially if I don’t have children or grandchildren attending public schools?
Public education impacts everyone. It results in higher incomes, better jobs, rising property values and a healthy economy. Today’s students are your doctors, nurses, engineers, and technicians of tomorrow. Our parents, grandparents, and neighbors paid for education for each of us. Investing in the next generation is a time-honored American value. Specifically, new and improved school buildings will:
• make neighborhoods more desirable for current and future residents,
• have a positive impact on property values,
• send a positive message to future businesses that Jacksonville values education (education and workforce preparation are among the most important variables in attracting new jobs), and
• provide neighborhoods with better shelters during hurricanes and other emergencies.

How will I know if the school district is doing what it says it will do with the money?
A Citizen Oversight Committee will review the spending, progress and completion of all projects. They will have access to and regularly review all records to make sure money is spent as promised. The members of the committee cannot be employed by our district or benefit financially from the projects.

How much will this tax cost me?
The increased percentage is .005. As you know the sales tax is only applied to certain purchases (called taxable items), e.g. not food you consume in your home and not medicine. If you purchase $5,000 a year of those taxable items, then the proposed .005 increase would cost you $25 a year.

Will this tax last forever?
No, the tax would expire in 15 years unless residents voted to renew the tax.

Does any of this money go to School Board or administrative salaries?
No. By law, money from this initiative can only be spent on school security upgrades, technology infrastructure, school renovations, new schools and large maintenance needs.

What about the money from the Florida Lottery, doesn’t that fund schools?
Our school district does receive some money from the Florida Lottery. It’s a relatively small portion of our total budget, and the State of Florida mandates that almost all of it be used for specific programs. That means it is not available for maintenance, renovation or construction of schools. With thousands of teachers and more than 160 schools, the amount of funding the district receives from the lottery would only fund the district for about one school day.

What’s the difference between capital and operational money?
*Capital dollars are for buildings, maintenance, technology, security, and repaying money borrowed to make capital improvements in the past. Revenue from a half-penny sales tax can only be used on capital expenses.
*Operational money is largely for salaries, along with overhead expenses, such as utilities, materials, and classroom supplies.

What would happen if voters do not approve the half-penny sales tax for education?
*Failure to get new funding through the sales surtax would mean our students would face a future in aging, rapidly deteriorating schools and would likely result in school closures and expanded use of portables. The cost to maintain current buildings, which are often more than 50 years old, is quickly growing beyond the funding the district receives for maintenance. Life safety systems, such as fire alarms and sprinklers, will always be a priority. But as air conditioning systems, roofing, electrical and other systems fail, the district will be forced to close schools it can’t afford to repair or replace.
*Needed maintenance and renovations on existing buildings would continue to be deferred due to lack of revenue, eventually costing more money in the future due to building and equipment failures.

How would the additional funds raised through a sales tax be used?
100 percent of the funds would be used to cover the cost of projects in the district’s master facilities plan. The plan identifies physical safety and security upgrades at every school (school hardening) major renovations or full school replacements, and consolidation of schools into more efficient facilities, all constructed to enhance learning and the student experience. The master plan remains in development. It will be completed no later than this summer so voters can see how each school will benefit with the new revenue. A citizen oversight committee will monitor expenditures of the new revenue to ensure those funds are properly spent on the priorities identified in the master plan.

What question will voters see on the November ballot regarding the half-penny sales tax for education?
OFFICIAL BALLOT
School District of Duval County, Florida
Special Election – November 5, 2019
School Capital Outlay Sales Surtax to Improve
Safety and the Learning Environment
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

Repair of the Neighborhood Schools

schools in need of repair
Above is a photo from this article: https://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/local/duval-county-public-schools-needs-108b-to-revamp-repair-all-158-school-buildings/891619289
Quote from that article:

$1.08 billion. That’s how much the Duval County School District needs to get all of its school buildings back in tip-top shape. The Jacobs Engineering group, hired by the district, worked on a study to help figure out how to solve this problem.

These are a few quotes from this article from December of 2018:

A decade ago, Duval had about $103 million a year to spend on capital needs, Soares said, but over the years state budgets and changes in how districts are allowed to raise money for schools shrunk that pool. Now the district needs about $80 million a year to keep up with major and minor school repairs, but it only got $22 million, he said.

The state Legislature is likely to make some additional capital dollars available this year, Greene said, but it likely will earmark that to be used only for certain school safety items. [Unfortunately they did not.  They earmarked $158 million for charter schools but none for the neighborhood schools.]

Board member Warren Jones noted that Duval is one of the few major urban districts that doesn’t have a secondary source of revenue for building costs. Many districts in the state, including some in the First Coast, have raised sales taxes or imposed impact fees on development to raise money for schools, he said.

These are a few quotes from this article:

But the underlying issue is sound: Local schools don’t have enough money. Curry just can’t seem to bring himself to directly address it. As always, it’s a political game. Because if he were against it — which he is — then he’d need to come up with some other plan to help pay for the school system’s decrepit buildings.

Quote from this article:

The payments are known as “impact fees.” Developers of new residential neighborhoods pay these fees to the school district to offset the impacts that new students are expected to create. But state law has been unclear as to whether those funds can be used only for future construction or to help pay off schools already built.

A Republican speaks out about the GOP legislators continually funding charter schools and money for vouchers without funding the neighborhood schools. Here is an excerpt from his speech:

The charter management companies signed these contracts with our local school districts and they said that they could educate our children for 95% of the FTE or whatever that number is over time. And every year since, they’ve come to THIS legislature to ask for more money. They wanted PECO, and we gave them PECO. They wanted $158 million, we gave them that. And now they want a part of the local option millage and we’re gonna give them that. Well I’ll tell you what… I don’t know about you all but, to me, that is just intellectually dishonest. And I’m wondering when this Senate will stand up and say “enough is enough.”

The GOP dominated Florida legislature just screwed us by passing HB 5. Quote from HB 5: ” … must be approved in a referendum held at a general election”

(16) “General election” means an election held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in the even-numbered years,

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 schools. The GOP dominated legislators gave $158 million to the repair of charter schools and nothing to the repair of the neighborhood schools.

I hope that charter schools aren’t going to get any of the money from the sales tax increase.  They are getting plenty of money from the GOP state legislators.  We need to fix the neighborhood schools.

Quote from this article:

In that piece, Strauss includes a lengthy analysis by Burris asking whether charter schools can be rehabilitated and reconnected to their original mission. Her conclusion—after weighing the frequency and seriousness of scandals, the persistent evidence of discrimination and segregation, and the depletion of public school funding—is “a resounding no.”

Quote from this article http://folioweekly.com/stories/roadblock,21440:

This year, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund conducted a poll showing 78.5 percent of respondents favored a small surtax to support our schools.

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.

 

Ask legislators to amend SB 7030 before the 4-24-19 vote.

This is the definition of the third reading and it looks to me there is a
chance for amendments: “Debate on final passage occurs; a two-thirds vote is required to amend at this stage.”

Please ask the legislators to amend SB 7030 so that the taxpayers are NOT giving the charter schools extra taxpayer money to arm their teachers. And please make sure the taxpayers will not be liable for accidents if a charter school decides to arm their teachers. SB 7030 gives the charter schools the option of arming their teachers BUT the taxpayer should not be forced to fund that decision.

Funding for school safety should not be limited to armed personnel. The school district should have more flexibility in deciding how to use funds to secure their schools. Please advocate for amending SB 7030 to allow the school districts to spend the money however they choose to reduce risks.

The GOP dominated legislature wants  the school districts to have the option of letting teachers bring guns into their classrooms. Most school districts are going to choose NOT to let teachers carry guns while they are teaching. Please amend SB 7030 to delete the language that says that the appropriated funding must be used exclusively for weapons to be brought into the classroom.

Panic buttons or metal detectors might be a better use of the funds. Please let each school district decide how to use the money.

guns in schools

Lines 234 to 238 of SB 7030 currently reads as follows:

c. The sheriff conducting the training pursuant to subparagraph 2. will be reimbursed for training-related costs and for providing a one-time stipend of $500 to each school guardian

Please ask the legislators to amend SB 7030 so that the taxpayers are NOT giving the charter schools extra taxpayer money to arm their teachers.

On another note, the per student funding that the legislators are giving to charter schools and private schools should not be more than 70% of what the neighborhood schools get. Neighborhood schools act as hurricane shelters, adult schools, parks for the neighborhood, etc. Plus my belief is that most parents want their kids to go to a school close to their home. Please make all the neighborhood schools GREAT before you subsidize the private schools with my taxpayer money. Also please make all the anti-bullying and anti-discrimination rules that apply to the neighborhood schools also apply to the charter and private schools receiving voucher money.

Does bigoted language increase feelings of hate? Are feelings of hate growing in our country?

A few quotes from an article (Bigotry and the English Language by TA-NEHISI COATES) that explores the definition of bigotry:

Wes Alwan’s definition of a bigot as someone who is wholly unpersuadable, wholly without conflict, and wholly without doubt, is a description of a myth. … Wes Alwan’s understanding of the word “bigot” is ignorant of the word’s current usage, especially its usage by those most affected by bigotry.

Link to the article:
https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/12/bigotry-and-the-english-language/281935/

This is a good time to point out that taxpayers are funding charters and private schools that do not need to follow the rules of the neighborhood schools. How horrible will we feel if a charter school or a school receiving voucher money turns out to be some sort of white nationalist propaganda mill? There is no reason SB 1272 (and the companion bill HB 741) shouldn’t apply to any school receiving public money, either directly or indirectly.

SB 1272 and HB 741 lay out the words of antisemitism. As Coates says in that Atlantic article, words trigger feelings of discrimination. Those not within that minority group may NOT understand how hurtful certain words might feel. When bigoted people use certain words they are signaling those other bigoted people within their bigoted group. I think that is the reason that Representative Fine goes into such detail as to what words signal antisemitism in his bill HB 741. Experts in drafting laws and in Jewish history and current affairs should consider that the law would be more effective if it was drafted in broader terms rather than specific terms. For example, instead of specific language, what about substituting lines 61 to 78 of HB 741 with these broader terms as to what constitutes bigoted language:

(a)
1. Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of a group of people based on their religion, race or gender.
2. Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about a group of people based on their religion, race or gender.
3. Accusing a group of similar people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single person from that group.
4. Denying the Holocaust. [Perhaps the narrative could be specific as to exactly what happened during the Holocaust.]
5. Accusing a citizen of being more loyal to another country just because another person of similar ethnicity or religion has demonstrated that proclivity.

Link to the bill:
https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_h0741c2.docx&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=0741&Session=2019

Please write your representatives and ask that SB 1272 (HB 741–the companion bill) be amended. Racial, gender or religious bigotry should NOT be tolerated in any school receiving public funds, either directly or indirectly. The language of the Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1450) should be included because we want freedom of religion laws to be used as a shield against discrimination and not as a sword to harm others. Require that civility classes be taught. Prevention and education are the keys to reduce bigotry.

Link to information about the Do No Harm Act:
http://www.protectthyneighbor.org/do-no-harm-act

In addition to describing bigoted language, SB 1272 (HB 741-the companion bill) wants to add religion to this statute. Here is how the statute (before adding religion) reads:

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, ..

SB 1272 goes before the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee on April 8th. Jacksonville Florida Senator Audrey Gibson is on that committee. Please write to the Honorable Audrey Gibson about this issue before April 8th. Feel free to use any of the points I used in my email to the Florida Senator:

To: gibson.audrey@flsenate.gov

Honorable Audrey Gibson,

SB 1272 is on the agenda for the Judiciary committee for April 8th at 4 pm. The bill addresses antisemitism and adds religion to Florida statute 1000.05. PLEASE ask for these amendments to be added to the bill before voting yes:

1. SB 1272 (and the companion bill HB 741) should amend 1000.05 of the Florida statutes so that the statute applies to any school receiving local, state or federal financial assistance. Religious, racial or gender bigotry should NOT be tolerated in any school receiving public money, directly or indirectly. How horrible will we feel if a charter school or a school receiving voucher money turns out to be some sort of white nationalist propaganda mill? Now is the time to make sure that 1000.05 covers all schools receiving local, state or federal financial assistance.

2. In addition to specifically mentioning antisemitism, please also mention anti-atheism and other minority groups that have felt the brunt of religious bigotry.

3. The bill should include a requirement that civility and sensitivity classes be taught in all schools receiving local, state or federal financial assistance. All school children should learn that religious, racial and gender bigotry isn’t polite. The idea is to address hatred, yes?

4. The language of the Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1450) should be included. Our First Amendment religious clauses and other religious protection laws should be a shield of protection from discrimination not a sword to do harm to others.

The comments during the House Education and the House Judiciary committee meetings (discussing HB 741) made it clear why we need civility and sensitivity classes in all the schools. People testified in those committee meetings about the discrimination they or their friends have experienced in life.

I am worried that adding religion to the Florida statutes (without safeguards) might cause unintentional consequences (similar to what happened with RFRA). Americans United for Separation of Church and State as well as the ACLU supported RFRA decades ago. They did not predict how it would be used to harm others. They are now promoting the Do No Harm Act to fix the problems caused by RFRA. In my view, the wording of the Do No Harm Act should be included wherever religion is given special protection in state or federal laws. Our First Amendment religious clauses and other religious protection laws should be a shield of protection against discrimination not a sword to do harm to others.

Sincerely yours,
Concerned Jacksonville citizen

How do we reduce hate?

No tax money should be going to schools tolerating religious bigotry. HB 741 should apply to all schools receiving local, state and federal financial assistance.

HB 741 adds religion to the list in 1000.05 of the Florida statutes.

Please tell the sponsors of the bill to quit imposing regulations on public schools when they aren’t willing to apply the same rules to other schools receiving taxpayer money. IF the bill is a good one, then it should apply to all schools receiving taxpayer assistance. IF it isn’t a good rule, then why should it be imposed on the public schools?

Some people call others “snowflakes” when the so-called snowflake asks people not to use racial slurs or religiously bigoted terms. The legislature is considering a bill (SB 1410) that will give voucher money to anyone claiming to have been bullied. But what happens to the bully and the other kids left in the school with the bully? We need to teach kids NOT to bully whether in the public, charter or private schools receiving local, state or federal financial assistance.

HB 741 should allocate funding to teach civility and sensitivity so kids learn not to bully and not to be insensitive to others.

I know some viewed the Convington Catholic private school boys in DC and perhaps even the Kavanaugh hearings differently than I did. BUT what I saw was several insensitive white boys. They need civility and sensitivity training as much as anyone in the public school. Did you see the part of the video where the boys *pulled* one of the two black kids to the front of the crowd to show the Black Hebrew Israelites that they had people of color in their group? Did you see the video where the one catholic private school boy said “it’s not rape if you enjoy it”? I am not saying this to condemn them. I have said stupid insensitive stuff in my life also. What I am saying is that we ALL need civility and sensitivity training.

I think it is a good idea to add religion to the list in 1000.05 of the Florida statutes. However, I think HB 741 should be amended in the following ways before it continues to the various committees in Florida’s Congress:

1. HB 741 (and 1000.05 of the Florida statutes) should apply to any school receiving local, state or federal financial assistance.

2. If it is going to point out antisemitism then it should also mention Islamophobia and anti-atheism and perhaps other minority religious groups that have felt the brunt of religious bigotry.

3. It should include funding and requirements that civility and sensitivity classes be taught in all schools receiving local, state or federal financial assistance. The class must be taught by someone certified in sensitivity training.

4. The bill should have pro-active prevention and course correction ideas MORE than punishment.

5. None of the language in HB 741 should imply that one can’t make valid criticisms of a religion. The goal should NOT be to curtail freedom of speech in such a way that valid criticisms can’t be expressed in a civil and productive manner. The spirit of the Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1450) should also be included because we don’t want freedom of religion to be used as a sword to harm others.

6. Where possible the language of what religious bigotry means should be worded in broader terms. For example re-word lines 51 to 77 of the original version of HB 741 to read

(7) A K-20 educational institution that has received local, state or federal financial assistance must treat religious discrimination by students or employees in an identical manner to discrimination based on race. For purposes of this section, the term religious discrimination includes expressions of hatred toward the religious minority, rhetorical and physical manifestations of that bigotry directed toward a person, his or her property, or toward the community institutions or religious facilities.

(a) Examples of religious bigotry include:

1. Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of a group of people based on their religion.

2. Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about a group of people based on their religion.

3. Accusing a group of similar people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single person from that group.

4. Denying the Holocaust. Perhaps the narrative could be specific as to exactly what happened during the Holocaust.

5. Accusing a citizen of being more loyal to another country just because another person of similar ethnicity or religion has demonstrated that proclivity.

The focus of the bill should be to reduce and maybe eliminate bullying and religiously bigoted language. All school children should learn that religious bigotry isn’t polite. The idea is to address hatred based on religion, yes? With the recent shootings at the synagogue and the mosque, we continue to wonder what we can do to prevent these tragedies. Can we teach people not to hate? Shouldn’t we try? Discrimination against atheists is also part of religious bigotry.

It shouldn’t be about punishment. It should be about course correction. That is why it is vital that the bill provide funding for a required course which will teach sensitivity and civility. The course should be required to be taught every year in any school receiving local, state or federal assistance. The teacher of the civility course should be certified in the field of civility and their salaries should be paid from the state treasury.

1000.05 and bill HB 741 should cover charter schools and private schools that receive voucher money.   HB 741 will add “religion” to the list in 1000.05 (2)(a). This is how 1000.05(2)(a) reads now:

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.

Sponsors and co-sponsors of HB 741:

Representatives Fine, Caruso, Donalds, Fischer, Killebrew, LaMarca and Roach

Link to bill: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00741
Amendment to HB 741 was proposed and adopted on March 21st in the Education Committee.  It removed lines 95-99 and inserted:

(c) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or the State Constitution. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to conflict with federal or state discrimination laws.