How Florida’s For-Profit Charter School Industry Is Moving Money in to Influence the Legislative Session

Matt Dixon’s report that a former top lobbyist for the for-profit charter school industry is now the top fundraiser for a PAC belonging to the chairman of the senate education appropriations committee provided a glimpse into how well the industry has politically positioned itself.

A lobbyist meeting with lawmakers is not out of the ordinary, but it makes clear (Nancy Ann) Texeira lobbied the committee on behalf of her charter school clients. Those included: Charter Schools USA, the Florida Charter School Alliance, the Foundation for Florida’s Future, and Parent Revolution.

The for-profit charter school industry has already moved  money into play to affect policy during this month’s legislative session. Let’s take a look how.

There was no election last fall, but Charter Schools USA made three contributions starting in August totaling $8500. One of those for $2500 (9/24/13) went to a new Electioneering Communications Organization (EOC),  And Justice For All. The other two went to – unsurprisingly – the Republican Party for Florida for $5000 and Rep. George Moraitis (R-Fort Lauderdale) Moraitis is the vice chair of the Choice and Innovation Subcommittee and sponsored a bill last year that Charter Schools USA wanted badly.

Only in existence since August 2013, And Justice for All has already taken in close to $1 million. It’s agent is republican power-broker Nancy Watkins. Other contributors to And Justice For All will sound familiar to readers of this blog.

Step Up for Students CEO John Kirtley clearly aligned himself with the for-profit charter school industry in 2012 when his Florida’s Federation for Children accepted $100,000 in contributions from Charter Schools USA and Academica.  Kirtley who lists himself as an “education consultant” appears to have made the very first contribution to the new EOC for $25,000.  Another powerful charter school lobbyist and former Florida education commissioner, Jim Horne, made a $2500 contribution through his firm two weeks later. The Florida Chamber of Commerce made three contributions totaling $85,000.

Records at the Division of Elections don’t include last month.  And Justice For All has only spent $17,000 of it’s $1 million haul; most of it on lobbying. Will issue related television and radio spots follow from And Justice For All?

No charter school or school choice bills have been filled, although Bradenton Times columnist Dennis Maley predicts that another one will. The legislative session begins Tuesday and the for-profit charter school industry has positioned itself with cash to be influential again.


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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