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My good friend Rick Outzen published this piece recently, and I wanted to share it:

The Florida Legislature has finally figured out how to destroy public education -- under the guise of “school choice.” After all, everybody likes choice, unless it involves abortion, contraception or gay marriage.

The so-called “parent trigger” bill is the crowning blow to a decade-long effort to take “public” out of education and unload struggling schools, especially those that serve poor, black, Hispanic and special-needs students.

The proposed legislation supposedly gives parents more ability to direct what happens at their failing schools. But the options are limited to transferring their child out of the school, hiring a private corporation to run the school or closing the school and reopening it as a charter school. Nowhere is there an option to force school districts to reallocate funds to recruit better teachers or use innovative strategies.

Parent trigger laws are relatively new. California was the first to adopt one in 2010.  Mississippi, Texas and Connecticut have since passed similar laws. Now Florida legislators are following suit. After all, everybody wants to be like Mississippi, right?

In February, the Florida House passed its version of the parent trigger bill, HB 1191, on an 80-34 vote. And last week, the Senate Budget Committee approved its version, SB 1718. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.

Last year, our lawmakers told us that teachers should be paid based on students’ test scores. The premise being good teachers get the best tests results. So if good teachers are the key, why isn’t the legislature passing a bill mandating higher pay for teachers in the failing schools? That way, we’d recruit the “best” teachers for students struggling the most.

Instead, lawmakers want for-profit corporations, who don’t have to hire union teachers or pay middle-class wages, to take over struggling schools and make money off our most challenged students.

If the parent trigger bill becomes law, Florida’s education system will divide into “haves” and “have nots.” Forty years ago, the civil rights movement ended “separate-but-equal” public education. Now Florida lawmakers are plotting its return.

Get the full story here.

Originally posted to farronbalanced on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 09:27 AM PST.

Also republished by DKos Florida.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm with Obama: There's a Case for Charter Schools (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coffeetalk, Lujane, valion, VClib

    I don't think this article provides a coherent argument against the "parent-trigger" law. As I was reading, certain things struck me:

    California was the first to adopt one in 2010.  Mississippi, Texas and Connecticut have since passed similar laws. Now Florida legislators are following suit. After all, everybody wants to be like Mississippi, right?
    No, but Mississippi would probably like to follow California's lead, as many states do on a range of issue. The fact this bill is modeled on California legislation, also adopted in Connecticut, doesn't really convince me it's right-wing corporatization.
    But the options are limited to transferring their child out of the school, hiring a private corporation to run the school or closing the school and reopening it as a charter school.
    Those actually sound like entirely reasonable options. Since the bill is called a "parent trigger", apparently the school district itself has voted that there school is failing and they want a change. There's nothing in this article that indicates this is being imposed by state bureaucrats or outside managers - the parents themselves are saying: the district has failed.

    If things reach that point, clearly "reallocation of resources" within the district or some other compromise has been tried and/or rejected by the parents. And ultimately, it should be the parents (and residents) of the district that make the call.

    If the parent trigger bill becomes law, Florida’s education system will divide into “haves” and “have nots.” Forty years ago, the civil rights movement ended “separate-but-equal” public education. Now Florida lawmakers are plotting its return.
    Comparing district-instituted educational reform to state-mandated segregation is a complete non sequitur. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Granted, some charter schools are so successful vs. public schools they have long waiting lists, but they're not segregated by race or income (any more than the district itself is, which is a problem outside the scope of any local school reform).

    This article doesn't sway me at all.

    •  you should really do some research (5+ / 0-)

      this legislation is the work of ALEC and is appearing in many republicant dominated state legislatures.  It is meant to take control away from locally elected boards of education and give the appearance of choice to parents in schools with low test scores.  They wanted to have this in Indiana, instead went whole hog for the voucher model.  Who benefited?  Catholic schools make up over 98% of the schools approved for vouchers.  Did Catholic schools outperform public schools--no.  Neither did charters but charters cannot take the vouchers.  Of course, the parents actually do not choose the school, the school chooses the students based on a variety of reasons--income (can they afford the tuition over and above the voucher?), test scores, special needs, and other local bars must be passed before a student can use the voucher.  And for some reason, our charters, which do not have long waiting lists, seem to be a bit different SES wise than our public school.  Hmm.

      •  OK, there's an argument there (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane, valion, VClib

        You say it gives "the appearance of choice" - so are you saying:

        (a) there's something wrong with the choices available after the parent trigger has been activated, i.e. the charters are restrictive in some way. How? We're talking about a Florida law here, so it's not clear it's the same as Indiana (even model legislation is amended from state to state, and there's no mention of this particular legislation being adopted in Indiana).

        (b) parents aren't properly informed about their choices prior to the vote on the parent trigger?

        (c) that parents don't have a proper say in pulling the trigger?

        I don't know - I feel like a diary talking about how Florida legislation is a return to pre-Brown v. Board of Education and a plot to destroy public education and an evil corporatist scheme should explain a bit about how any of that is true? With even one fact or argument in support of any of those claims.

        •  The issue is that Jeb Bush and the Republican (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          floridagal, terabytes

          party have spent the past ten years dismantling what was an effective and well-integrated Florida School system, set up by Lawton Chiles and other Democrats.

          That system included a ton of magnet and Montessori schools where they would set up a flagship magnet program inside a low income, under-performing school.

          I got bused all the way across Broward County to go to Ft Lauderdale High's Law Magnet. Ft Lauderdale High bordered a slum and a middle class neighborhood.

          I watched brothels disappear and be replaced by dignified low-income housing.

          It was part of a system that was working.

          And then Jeb Bush was elected, and started his FCAT bullshit.

          And I ended up with a PE Teacher teaching math. The solution isn't Charter Schools in Florida at least, it's to do what we were doing in the 90's before Jeb threw a monkey wrench into the system.

          An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail.

          by OllieGarkey on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 12:54:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Agree. I have sympathy for parents (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jgelling, Lujane, VClib

      whose only option is a public school that has failed them. A child doesn't get to re-do those years.  A system that lets PARENTS pull the trigger on some drastic alternative does not seem like something outrageous.   Instead, it seems like it's an encouragement for parents to take ownership of their child's education and the direction it's going.  

      And what are the alternatives?  "working within the system" might be a long-term plan, but if I'm a parent with a child in a failing school, what I'm saying is that I can't wait 5 years for it to get better.  

      There are no easy answers to this, because so much of the success of the child starts with the parent -- does the family put a premium on education, does the family strongly value education, does the family make it clear to the child that education comes first and is a priority for the whole family:  

      A 2005 study published in the Journal of School Psychology examined teacher qualifications, classroom practices, family characteristics and preschool experiences and concluded that the home learning environment and family education status accounted for most of the differences in reading scores and vocabulary at the end of first grade.
                           . . .
      Research supports the idea that continuing adult education can improve children's academic achievement. A 2011 article published in Maternal and Child Health Journal suggests that continued education improves outcomes for children born to teen moms, while the moms' marital status had next to no impact on the children. Teen moms who returned to school created cognitively enriching and emotionally supportive environments equivalent to those created by older, married moms.
      Something that empowers parents to get involved in their child's education does not seem to be to be a totally bad thing.  
      •  I agree, long-term reform is certainly reasonable (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coffeetalk, VClib

        But my general mindset, and I think that of the average parent, is the district is ultimately accountable to the residents.

        Taking the opposite mindset, the institutional mindset, that the system comes first, and you have to protect and work within the existing system, just isn't compatible with fundamental reform.

        Anyway, despite all that, I was just more frustrated with this article full of empty propaganda. I despise empty propaganda, left, right, center, or whatever this is.

        If you're going to call legislation that sounds reasonable on its face and has been adopted by states as diverse as California, Connecticut, Texas, Mississippi, etc. segregationist, corporatist, and anti-public education, at least include some facts about why any of that might be true.

      •  Privatization is never a good thing. (0+ / 0-)

        The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

        by Azazello on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 11:17:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A charter school (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib

          Can be non-profit and public. Or it can be non-profit and private, with public funding. Or it can be private and for-profit. The key is a charter school is at its core - a school with a new charter, freed from a lot of state regulations, that can try something new to improve student learning. Some charters can even focus on specific subject areas: really they're just more flexible to the needs of the district, in some cases.

          Or you can have kids transfer to a different school, at the election of parents, in this legislation, eg the suburban school one district over. That seems reasonable.

          There's no mention of vouchers here, but that's another option that's been tried with, I think, a lot less success than charter schools.

          Privatization is often bad. But reforming a failed public institution at the election of its constituents, with the same public funding and bedrock guarantees of public education, seems fair to me. I know if I lived in a low percentile school district, I'd like the option of fundamental reform.

  •  I agree with diarist as ever since Jeb Bush was (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, floridagal, liberalej

    Governor the GOP has been trying to privatize the entire state.

    "No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar." Abraham Lincoln

    by appledown on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 09:47:34 AM PST

    •  Republished to DKos Florida. (0+ / 0-)

      "No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar." Abraham Lincoln

      by appledown on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 09:50:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's fair - but why is *this* bill bad? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coffeetalk, nextstep

      The article is all over the place about this bill. First it says it's Mississippi legislation - even though it acknowledges that California is the model for the bill.

      Then it says it doesn't include the option of "fixing" or "re-allocating resources" in public schools, when common sense would tell you if it reaches the point where parents are revolting and asking for a death trigger, such solutions have been tried and failed.

      And it ends with comparing the bill to segregation and saying it's racist, without any explanation how that's the case.

      This is just a bunch of empty rhetoric - there's no substance here. Maybe it's a bad bill, but can someone tell me why?

    •  Republicans have attempted intentionally (0+ / 0-)

      Republicans have attempted intentionally to destroy public schools.

      The republicans in Florida have went out of their way to ruined public schools.

  •  Should parents accept unacceptable schools? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jgelling

    For parents without the means to pay for private schools or home school what choice should they have if the local school is unacceptable?  

    If the assigned public school is unacceptably bad, the parent has tried to work within they system and "parent trigger" is not the law  --  the diary is saying the parent should accept the unacceptable.

    A school needs to be very, very bad for a majority of all parents (not just those who vote) to vote to have such major changes at the school.  Only the worst of schools will be subject to this, most schools that are below average will not even be subject to this.

    I care far more for the possibility of better education for the children forced to go to terrible schools than protecting the confutation of the worst schools.  

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 11:17:17 AM PST

  •  Privatizing the public school system is a (0+ / 0-)

    one of the surest ways to destroy the very foundation of education in this country. It is the bedrock of a democracy. From the comments above, what exactly are the criteria you are using to label a school "terrible"? The AYP, NCLB testing, curriculum, scheduling, the administators, the school board...the list is long and complicated  to label a school unacceptable.  The primrose path of Charter schools will be an educational disaster but since the "ownership' of your child's education is your goal, then by all means go Charter. For years teachers have literally been begging parents to become more involved with the public  education of students and quite frankly with very little interest from parents. Unfortunately the trend is going in the wrong direction, privatizing the public school system is just one more corporate takeover and it is based on that very ugly word.....money.

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