Two separate revelations this week further unmasked the political scam that has become Florida’s Parent Trigger legislation.
The first involves evidence that the petition that Michelle Rhee furnished Lakeland Senator Kelli Stargel is filled with people who never signed it. Scathing Purple Musings reported on the other that concerns the existence of a faux parent group called The Sunshine Parents. The “group” has been circulating a video around Tallahassee and linking to a support petition on the website of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. Miami Herald reporter Kathleen McGrory has the entire story now:
The high-quality Sunshine Parents video and a shorter “sneak peek” surfaced last week, along with a host of questions about who had produced it.
In the videos, the Sunshine Parents described themselves as “an active and engaged group of parents throughout Florida that are seeking to transform the schools in their communities to serve all children.” But they offered no other information about the organization. The Sunshine Parents have no public online presence, and haven’t made themselves known around the Capitol.
The videos circulated in an email that linked to a petition by Bush’s education think tank, the Foundation for Florida’s Future. But foundation spokeswoman Allison Aubuchon said there was “no formal association” between Bush’s organization and Sunshine Parents.
“We think it’s a great video, but we can’t take credit for it,” she said.
The videos and the email made no reference to Parent Revolution. But Arlice Sims, who works at the Coconut Grove Barnyard, said Parent Revolution organizers Mehul Patel and Shirley Ford came to the community center earlier this month to produce the 32-minute documentary and trailer.
Parent Revolution spokesman David Phelps said his group had indeed “initiated” the mini-documentary, but wasn’t “directly affiliated” with Sunshine Parents. He said the connection was brokered through the Urban League of Greater Miami.
The Urban League is run by T. Willard Fair, who serves on the Foundation for Florida’s Future (FFF) board of directors, and was a Bush appointee to the state Board of Education.
Fair said Sunshine Parents was newly formed, but said he was “insulted” at the suggestion that the group had been created to carry water for Bush’s foundation or Parent Revolution.
“When minority parents decide that they need to flex their muscles, there is always some criticism,” he said
Isn’t it convenient that Fair can burnish his Urban League credentials while ignoring his FFF resume and his association with Bush? His quote,” when minority parents decide that they need to flex their muscles, there is always some criticism,” is a transparent play of the race card intended to deflect, suppress and scare away criticism. Such by a man as dignified and accomplished as Fair is extremely disappointing. ‘
Perhaps Fair got the race-bait angle from Parent Revolution’s Ford while she was in the state. She used a similar ploy on African-American Democrat senators during a hearing last year. Fair’s attempt to shield FFF from the deliberately misleading effort while hiding behind Parent Revolution is rich. It is FFF who arranged for Parent Revolution’s testimony to the legislature the past two years. And FFF boss, Patricia Levesque held joint pressers with them both years, too.
So Parent Trigger plows ahead in the Florida senate and supposedly has enough votes for passage on Monday. With only some tricky wording about local control to work out, it’s fair (no pun) to wonder why proponents still feel the need to resort to such dishonest tactics. Bush’s FFF and Parent Revolution are demonstrating they cannot be trusted to act in an above-board manner.