It was clear from the start the decision from Charter USA to bus in 2000 teachers and administrators to a Michelle Rhee-Rick Scott rally on Thursday was a bad idea. With media coverage and outrage by public school officials on record before the event, both Scott and Rhee’s were forced to alter their comments for the employees of the states 25 for-profit charters in a way which was far from a pep talk.
Charter schools have to prove themselves worthy of existing, Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday during a back-to-school rally for charter school teachers in Orlando.
Scott urged them to say, “hold me accountable.”
He said charters and traditional public schools should compete for excellence. Then
students who can choose among them will be the winners, he said.
“We want great charter schools, and we want great public schools,” Scott said during the
appearance at the Charter Schools USA kickoff at the Rosen Plaza Hotel on International Drive. “I want the best ones to get better.”
The governor’s comments seemed a move to appease critics who say he has spent too much time championing charter schools since taking office in January. Charter schools have
been highlighted in a number of Scott’s appearances, including his budget
signing in May, while traditional public schools have been ignored.
During a later interview with the Orlando Sentinel editorial board, Scott acknowledged that he had not spent any time visiting traditional public schools, which have been the focus of much of his criticism of education
We’ll be waiting on that public school visit. Doubt it will be anything more than a photo-op done by a pool reporter. Anyhow, reporter Dave Weber also picked out a real whopper from Scott and called him on it:
Should school board members and superintendents across Florida be jumping for joy at Gov. Rick Scott’s pronouncement?
“Leave it to the local educators to decide how to best spend their money,” he said Thursday, standing not three feet away from me at a press conference.
Was is a hallelujah moment? Will local school officials be freed from the bonds of Scott and the state Legislature and the Florida Department of Education telling them how to spend their money – as is the case today? Probably not.
That’s because Scott was talking about his baby, charter schools. And the rules are different for charter schools
Looks like Weber sniffed out Scott’s hypocrisy. I can’t imagine the outrage we’d get from Scott and his allies if 2000 public school teachers had taken the day off this early in the school year to attend a SOS March Florida event featuring Diane Ravitch. Doubt the Charter USA educators had to take a personal day to attend either.
This Rhee-Scott-charter school embarrassment won’t be going away easily either. The ranking member of the Florida House Committee on Education has demanded an accounting of the event:
Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, said in a letter Friday to Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson that he wants “to guarantee that no entity receiving Florida taxpayers’ dollars be allowed to ever spend those dollars in similar fashion.”
Bullard also asked the commissioner to provide an accounting on whether any taxpayer money was used for the rally.
Department of Education officials declined immediate comment but said they would respond to Bullard.
Looks like Bullard doesnt agree with Scott, but the Florida governor can now hide behind his education commissioner. Gerard Robinson probably doesn’t really enjoy being dragged in on this embarrassment.
This episode further illustrates the inept zealotry of Scott and his acolyte’s on education policy-making. As for Rhee, who never seems to stop flacking her own bone fides as an educator, this ill-timed appearance demonstrates her continued pattern of “Publicity First” before “Students First.”