Orlando Sentinel education reporter Leslie Postal doesn’t attribute the quote in the title to this blog post to anyone, but it was a point of emphasis that the two top advocates for HB 867 were making at the March 7th hearing.
The bills would give parents a say in the “turnaround” option selected for an F-graded school (there were 34 last year, including Wheatley Elementary in Apopka). The options include closing the school, turning it into a charter or turning it over to an outside management company.
One of the bill’s sponsors said the legislation would apply only to a “small narrow universe” of schools. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a hotly debated bill during the Florida Legislature’s current session.
Proponents say the bill would give parents more power and a voice in how to improve struggling schools.
“So what is the fear? Are we that afraid of what parents will recommend, motivated purely out of love for their children?” said Patricia Levesque, executive director of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future.
Just two days removed from withdrawing her lobbyist credentials, Levesque was appearing as Executive Director (lobbyist) for Foundation for Florida’s Future. Odd timing for Levesque as she told FCIR that she withdrew her credentials as “last November the board expressed an interest in having me work full-time as an employee of the foundation” But that’s the board for the other foundation – the Foundation for Excellence in Education.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami), was using similar language during the hearing and testified that much of the bill was already found within federal guidelines under rules of Florida’s Race to the Top (RttT) grant.
So if only a “small universe” of schools would be affected and Florida is bound already to much of HB 867 by RttT, what’s the point?
Trujillo, who got into a dust-up yesterday with public school advocacy group Fund Education Now, made the outrageous claim that “parents will never steer their children wrong.” Such rhetoric is red meat for the irrational, aggrieved parent, but doesn’t come close to justifying such sweeping policy. But it’s representative of the anger that Trujillo and Levesque want to tap into. One needs to only look at the bitterly divisive parent trigger fights in California to understand the sort of chaos that Trujillo and Levesque are willing to bring to Florida communities.
Along with the aforementioned reasons that Parent Trigger is unnecessary, is the existence of Florida’s current school turnaround model. It was this factor which enabled a number of republican senators to vote against it last year. As Jeb Bush vowed parent trigger would be back this year and attributed it’s defeat to the senate’s “Byzantine politics,” it’s fair for Floridians to wonder how much is this about his vanity?