Florida Board of Education Chair Kathleen Shanahan and member Akshay M. Desai are listed as hosts of a fundraiser to benefit Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future. Not to be confused with Bush’s other foundation, Foundation for Excellence in Education, this one focuses on choice legislation and digital learning. The event is being held at the Tampa home of John and Kim Kirtley. John Kirtley is the head of two pro-voucher groups (here and here, and is the founder of Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The event will be held during the Republican National Convention. From The Buzz:
Is is proper for state board members to be hosting a fundraiser which benefits lobbying groups who represent issues that will fall under their review? The close associations of two to Bush is already clear – Shanahan was his Chief of Staff and Desai was a Bush appointee. Whatever lobbying Bush does also benefits Kirtley’s two groups, as one of Bush’s foundation is listed as partner on the web sites. One of Kirtley’s groups is leading the charge against Louisiana public school teachers how are opposing Bobby Jindal’s universal vouchers system. Their not so nice either. This tweet from Kirtley’s Alliance for School Choice:
We intend 2 remind the unions that their intimidation & threats mean nothing to the parents who demand #SchoolChoice !
Accusing teachers unions of “intimidation and threats” is a predictable propaganda tool of privatization arms like Kirtley’s. Parent Revolution used the same innuendos in their smear of opponents in the Adelanto parent trigger battle in California. A member of Florida governor Rick Scott’s education transition team, Kirtley owns a private equity firm that invests in management buyouts of smaller middle-market companies. His efforts to have Bush raise funds may eventually find their way to Louisiana where one of Kirtley’s groups has created the Louisiana Defense Fund to “defend schools against threatening bullying tactics from Louisiana Association of Educators.”
The parent trigger battle in California demonstrates that guys like Kirtley and Bush don’t represent “choice” for all parents - just the choices they want them to make. They apparently don’t mind leaving behind the parents who don’t want what they want.