New Revelations in Stargel-Rhee Parent Trigger Petition; Senate Vote Today

A “weaker version” of Parent Trigger will be get a vote on the floor of the senate today. Writes Kathleen McGrory in The Buzz:

The parent trigger bill hit the Senate floor Monday, and as expected, sparked some lively discussion.

Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, set the tone by immediately withdrawing the eight amendments she had filed.

“My intention is, at this point, to not even attempt to fix this bill, I consider it so hopelessly bad,” Detert said.

Senators quashed three other amendments deemed “unfriendly” by Sen. Kelli Stargel, the bill’s sponsor. But they approved an addition from Sen. David Simmons that would give local school boards the authority to deny parent requests to make dramatic changes at low-performing schools.

The language had already been approved by the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The upper chamber needed to add it again because senators took up the House version of the bill on Monday.

Last week, Stargel said she planned to remove the wording because it took too much power away from the parents. But doing so would have likely lost her several key votes, including Sens. Andy Gardiner and Jack Latvala.

“Sometimes with a controversial bill, you take the path of least resistance,” Stargel said after Monday’s floor session.

Stargel’s admission that her bill is “controversial” is an admission by her that it that Parent Trigger is more political than it is practical. With politics comes underhanded, deliberately misleading episodes like the Stargel-Rhee petition of supposed supporters of Parent Trigger. More revelations about the petition emerged yesterday.

* A Sarasota Floridian admitted to signing the petition, but was appalled that their name appeared four times. Four who previously emailed Scathing  Purple Musings that they had not signed appeared twice on the petition.

* One signee emailed “because I think it’s important to support sensible solutions for difficult issues that plague this State I am indeed sad to say that I signed the “Students First” email.  Unfortunately, I did not suspect that there wasn’t a Florida-based group behind its convincing words or that it was actually a plug for privatized education, a system I don’t approve of. If I could rescind having taken part in this petition I would.  Alternatively, I am willing to write or call any legislator(s) you suggest to ask them to vote against bills that arise which do not support high quality and fair education for all children of Florida.”

*Another person who is certain they didn’t sign got another StudentsFirst email yesterday intended to get him to support it again. The creepy world of email list sharing and purchasing also caused this Panhandle gentleman to receive emails yesterday from Florida Watch and Democracy in America asking for his opposition to Parent Trigger.

* While a handful of people confirmed to SPM that they had signed the petition, other denials came in. A retired Miami teacher, Rosa Douglas wrote, “I do not remember signing the petition.  If I was somehow duped into doing so, I want my name removed! I DO NOT support this legislation in any way, shape or form.”

* The best comment of the day…… made within the 30 spam attacks came this from the wonderfully acerbic blogger, GrumpyElder:

“Sounds like Stargel got Rheed, since she’s still waving the petition around, she must have enjoyed it”

Responses are still coming in with between 20 to 25 percent denials. Some of those have even come from vigorous opponents of Parent Trigger. Three responders who signed the Rhee-Stargel petition now regret doing so and have change their position.

Rhee’s petition is a fabrication of such proportions which further diminishes her image as a pure education reformer. At the very least, let’s hope her days in Florida are over.

As the only Parent Trigger bill that emerges today doesn’t empower Parent Revolution or big charter school operators, the reality is that it may be weaker than current turnaround options the state already mandates and has proved effective. Only in the event Parent Revolution and their charter school financiers desire to use the win-by-lawsuit model they used in Adelanto can they be successful. Sadly, the deceitful actions of Parent Trigger’s advocates signal that they are willing to do just that.






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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One Response to New Revelations in Stargel-Rhee Parent Trigger Petition; Senate Vote Today

  1. Those “StudentsFirst” petitions (at least the online ones) are written deliberately to trick people into signing by phrasing things in such a way that anyone who disagreed with the statements would feel like an a**hole. For example, a few months ago on Facebook, I noticed that a colleague who is a retired teacher and an activist with our teachers’ union had posted a StudentsFirst petition with the comment, “Please sign this!” I was appalled that she would do such a thing because I know very well that she does NOT believe whatsoever in the Michelle Rhee rhetoric of B.S. But when I read the petition’s wording, it read something like, “Tell your elected officials that highly effective teachers deserve to be paid more.” Well, who DOESN’T agree with that? The trick is all in the wording. Since you and I and most people visiting your blog understand that “highly effective” means “students score high on standardized tests,” and that “paid more” means “pay-for-performance based on standardized test scores,” if we pause to examine the wording, and especially look at where the petition originated, we can see that we would be signing our names to support “performance pay” (or teaching on commission, as I think of it) for standardized test scores. This lady had signed the petition and reposted it asking her Facebook friends to sign on as well. Of course I immediately messaged her that this was from Michelle Rhee and meant performance pay for test scores, and she was horrified to have signed it and posted it, and retracted it with a comment for people NOT to sign. But it’s just one example of how people who totally disagree with what the petition is asking for have been tricked by deliberately shady language into signing.

    I have seen similar StudentsFirst petitions to get rid of LIFO, with blanket statements like, “Make sure good teachers get to keep their jobs.” Of course we want good teachers to keep their jobs. The grand irony is that the policies promoted by this group cause many good teachers to LOSE their jobs due to test scores beyond their control, while allowing teachers who may not be so “good” to keep their jobs for the same reason…and by eliminating the dreaded so-called “tenure,” there is no protection or recourse for teachers who, regardless of the quality of their teaching, could be targeted for layoff or firing because they cost the district more in salary, pension and health care costs.

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