UPDATE at the end
Carlos Trujillo is losing the argument in the House on Parent Trigger. And that supposed groundswell of support from parents hasn’t materialized either. In yesterday’s hearing, 23 people spoke in opposition with four in support. One was a an actual parent. The other three were paid lobbyist from predictable places: Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future, Michelle Rhee’s Student’s First and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
But yesterday’s hearing flushed Trujillo out of hiding. According to James Call of the Florida Current, he wants “to tweak the mandate to take the final decision on a urnaround option out of the purview of the local school board and give it to the state Board of Education.” The day before Trujillo’s first hearing, he – and senate sponsor Kelli Stargel – received a letter from Tony Bennett in which he shared his thoughts on Trigger. Here’s part:
…….The legislation as written includes language that may let local school board members off the hook when it comes to respecting a parent’s role in the process.
Rather than allowing an appeal process that shifts responsibility to the State Board of Education, which is not best equipped to understand the local sensibilities of these issues, parents, teachers, students and community members have a right to make sure that when parents vice an opinion, its gets considered. School boards should not have the ability shift the decision to the state.
There are no such provision which “lets local boards off the hook” or gives them the “ability to shift it to the state.” Bennett’s tortured interpretation of the legislation is a deceitful mischaracterization of the legislation and of the integrity of the state’s school boards. No wonder he was so loathed in Indiana and was voted out in a state in which even Mitt Romney comfortably carried.
As leaders said they’d like to incorporate some of “Bennett’s ideas in Parent Trigger, Trujillo’s “tweak” cuts the local school out of the process and turns the whole thing over to the charter school friendly state board of education of which Bennett has a seat. Along with Bennett who received campaign contributions from Charter Schools USA, board chairman Gary Chartrand sits on KIPP schools board in Jacksonville. It’s called conflicts of interest in Political Science classes.
If Trujillo is successful, the legislature will have another coercive act of legislative fiat on behalf of the for-profit charter school industry. I still can’t help but wonder if Parent Trigger is this year’s decoy legislation. Stargel’s senate version hasn’t taken the first step. Meanwhile opponents of trigger are burning all their energy on it when a greater danger to Florida’s public school lies in bill’s like Rep. George Moreites’ (R-Miami) which would enable charter schools to claim unused public school buildings for free. His bill also creates a path to “equitable funding” for charter schools in spite of their grossly incomplete list of services and “choices” they actually provide.
The House republican caucus is highly partisan and easily manipulated. Anything power brokers like Jeb Bush and the Florida Chamber of Commerce want, they go along. There are more grown-ups in the senate and it may be why Stargel’s Trigger bill may be stalled. But yesterday’s hearing outed Trujillo’s plan and put him into a position to be soundly throttled in debate by Rep. Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville) and Rep. Dwayne Taylor (D-Daytona Beach).
There something for everyone to oppose in Parent Trigger, including it’s hasty use of unreliable SB 736 data to make teacher rankings public. And the Bennett-Trujillo proposal further usurps local control of schools. It’s twisted new rule-making on signature accounting is a howler. Such devotion to this peculiar bill which has already proved divisive and corrupting remains an intense exercise of incredulity.
UPDATE: Please note that Florida Current reporter James Call has changed the wording away from a direct quote by Rep. Trujillo.