Lies, Damned Lies and Bush Foundation Talking Points on Parent Trigger

Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future (FFF)  just released a handy-dandy Misconception-Fact list on Parent Trigger. Let’s explore a few of their “Facts” that don’t pass the smell test:

In response to “this bill allows for-profit companies to take over our public schools,’ FFF responds:

In Florida’s bill, parents have the option to choose a charter school or contract with an outside entity to operate the school. Both options require that the chosen operator must have a demonstrated record of effectiveness. All charter schools are public schools. There are non-profit entities called “charter management companies” that manage the charter school, and there are for-profit entities called “education management companies” that manage charter schools. In both cases, the students that attend charter schools are public school students.

This is badly tortured lawyer speak. Setting up a non-profit building and charging them obscene management fees is a not-so-clever way of saying you are a non-profit when you’re for-profit. This is how charter schools like Academica-Somerset and Imagine Schools are set up. Even some republican legislators find this arrangement shaky and have introduced legislation to tidy up this troubling practice. One needs to only look at the Sarasota Imagine school whose parents tired of the arrangement and are attempting to end the relationship. Imagine sued the parents. So much for choice and parents being empowered. Why FFF would attempt to defend this is, well, indefensible.

Or how about FFF’s response to “this bill allows outsiders to come in and take local authority away from our schools districts:”

This bill does not take authority away from the district, but rather creates a mechanism for parents to voice their opinion on the turnaround option for their child’s school. These are the same FOUR federally mandated options that the school district has to turnaround failing schools – opponents continue to focus on just ONE. Parents are seeking input in a process which is already in place.

Even the bill’s sponsors won’t go this far. If parent’s disagree with the local board’s decision, the Florida Board of Education settles the dispute. This has already proved to be a corrupted process as the Board routinely overrules it’s own state charter school board’s recommendation on behalf of well-connected charter school operators. The fact that FFF makes no mention of this here is deception by omission.

And finally this whopper in response to “there are no provisions in this bill to prevent parents from being “duped:”

The petition must identify on the front page the turnaround option that the signature is for. The Department of Education will actually establish the format of the forms. For-profits are specifically prohibited from gathering signatures or paying others to solicit signatures. The State board is going to have model forms for each of the federally-mandated turnaround options. There is a ban on paid per signature, signature gatherers. All signature gatherers must disclose what organization the person is with. Even though the document is signed – a parent’s vote is not “submitted” until the petition is submitted to the school board – so unlike a vote for president – a parent has a window, to change their mind – before the petition is submitted to the school board for approval.

House sponsor Carlos Trujillo conveyed the opposite during debate last week. He indicated that for-profits and out-of-state organizers like Parent Revolution can gather signatures under “first amendment protections.” This is indeed at-odds with the text of the bill. Nor does there appear to be any provision which provides  that “a parent has a window, to change their mind – before the petition is submitted to the school board for approval.”  FFF also leaves out the fact that parents can sign more than one petition. It’s even clear that Parent Revolution was involved in crafting this year’s bill, as considerable blurring now exists in  signature verification.

There are other FFF points which some will find troubling. One in particular is targeted at the PTA. The release of such easily disputed talking points is remarkably reckless. By it’s own admission, Parent Trigger would affect a small number of schools and several of its provisions are already in place. What is it about this bill that Jeb Bush’s foundation has to have so badly that it’s willing have so many loyal republican legislators utilize political capital to pass?


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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6 Responses to Lies, Damned Lies and Bush Foundation Talking Points on Parent Trigger

  1. Bryan Bouton says:

    we all know…follow the 4 Trillion dollars in Ed funding in the US annually…that much sugar attracts a whole bunch of flies…

  2. Lori Yuan says:

    The problem with this supposed “window a parent has to change their mind – before the petition is submitted to the school board for approval.” is twofold: In our case (Adelanto, CA), there were parents UNAWARE a petition was being submitted to the school district until after it was “dropped” (a PRev term). The other problem is that the overwhelming majority of parents aren’t told the TRUTH about what they are signing and most don’t find out until it’s too late. Even still, parents in our community are sickened by what happened and wish for some way, any way to turn back time and change our school’s fate. Their law is full of bogus language and intentional vagueness because if they were transparent with their intentions, they would not be able to use the “grassroots movement” smokescreen in their target communities to gain support.

  3. tom james says:

    teachers: start bombarding moderate Senators on the education and appropriations committees as the bill in that chamber hasn’t even moved to committee yet. I contact Gaetz, Galvano and Negron today. time to strangle this baby in the crib.

  4. Teacher111 says:

    When I saw this on the Tampa Bay Times’ blog this afternoon, I thought the parent section contradicted itself. It dismisses the state PTA’s position stating the group doesn’t represent all parents and that the struggling schools have the smallest PTA chapters. Then in the second box, it says “hundreds of studies” show that parental involvement increases student achievement.

    Well, why don’t they educate the parents on the options they have NOW, like PTA and SAC? Why don’t they tell parents to get involved in their existing schools? If they aren’t involved now, what makes you think they will be involved after a charter conversion?

  5. SadNative says:

    Please spread the word and encourage teachers and parents to contact the Legislators in Tallahassee now. An excellent resource is “FundEducationNow”. They have been providing updates as the bill moves through the various committees. As for Teacher111, I really don’t think they have any interest in having parents actually involved once a Charter is established. The charter management companies just want students in seats so they can collect the funding. I definitely support true “grassroots” charters – but there is no money to be wasted on layers of management or principals who leave with hundreds of thousands of dollars in payout (that is a real situation that happened in a Charter High School in Orlando). I agree with the “smells like money” theory – it is about money, not about choice and certainly not about the kids. The FFF is in place to destroy public education, not “fix” it. How many Legislators went to a Florida public school or send/sent their children to one? My guess is “not very many”.

    • Teacher111 says:

      You are exactly right. Parents don’t have the same rights or “due process” opportunities when encountering problems with charter and private schools as they do with district schools.

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