Florida’s School Choice Crowd Buses in Kids on a School Day for Political Rally

In response to a questions from a colleague during yesterday’s Parent Trigger senate hearing, bill sponsor Kelli Stargel seem to bristle when she corrected a senate colleague by insisting that charter schools are public schools.

Why so touchy?

Stargel’s not alone. Consider this from Ron Matus who wrote this  a few days ago in redinED

Senate sponsor Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, crafts an amendment that would leave the final decision to school boards, not the state Board of Education, reports the Tallahassee DemocratCreative Loafing notes the concept’s origins on the political left, but inaccurately writes that unlike California, “troubled schools singled out in the Sunshine State would be taken over by a for-profit corporation.”

Matus doesn’t say what’s inaccurate. Is it the “would” part or the “taken over by a for-profit corporation” part?

At any rate, it is Matus who is inaccurate – or at least misleading. Nothing in either Parent Trigger bill moving through the legislature prevents for-profit corporations from taking over a public school after a Parent Trigger. Such blurring of the lines between public-private seem to be necessary for charter school advocates like Stargel and Matus to make their arguments. The illusion that charter school are public schools needs to maintained at any cost.

While we’re at it, let’s consider a little hypocrisy.

The corporate-funded school choice crowd is putting on it’s second annual choice-charter school pep rally tomorrow in Tallahassee. According to Sunshine State News , this year’s event will feature “Gov. Rick Scott, Education Commissioner Tony Bennett, state Sens. John Legg, Aaron Bean, Kelli Stargel and Anitere Flores, as well as state Reps. Janet Adkins and Bruce Antone.” And just like last year, a handful of politicians will benefit from a back-drop of charter school kids who’ve been bussed in for the day for that purpose. From Step Up for Students Catherine Robinson:

Early Wednesday morning, families from all over Florida, from Miami’s inner city neighborhoods to rural Pasco County, will board buses with their children and teachers and travel five to 10 hours to get to Tallahassee for School Choice Day. Organizers expect more than a thousand participants to gather and show lawmakers, traditional parenting groups, and everyone else the real face of parental choice.

They won’t look like right-wing corporations. There’s a good bet they will be racially and economically diverse. In other words, they will probably look like you and me.

The rally is being coordinated by Florida Alliance for Choices in Education (FACE) and the Florida Chapter of the National Coalition for Public School Options. Participants will be on hand to represent charter schools, virtual programs, magnet schools, McKay Scholarships, the Tax Credit Scholarship Program, career academies, and home-schools.

As the event’s coordinators say it’s “intended to celebrate all of the school choice options currently offered in Florida” and “thank our school choice champions for expanding options with fair access and equitable funding,” the intension is political. Florida legislators have been known to scold adults for taking kids out of school for the day to appear at legislative hearings. Why the double standard for this?


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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