About Those Faux “Uniform” School Choice Schemes From Florida Republicans

Author and radio talk show host Dr. Stephen Goldstein offers another blistering review of Florida’s republican-dominated school choice apparatus in the Sun-Sentinel:

And yet, in recent years, a succession of governors and members of the legislature haven’t “gotten it.” They have understood “uniform” to mean “variable,” even “competing”; and, for a variety of reasons — some of them crass and profit-driven — they have relentlessly encouraged the unconstitutional dismantling of the public school system.

But it is not “uniform” for Florida lawmakers to have created a massive system of charter schools that plays by different rules and competes with public schools. Aside from academic and organizational freedoms, charters siphon tax dollars from school districts with minimal accountability for how they spend them, which no public school could get away with.

It is not “uniform” for Florida to have created a voucher system that uses a subterfuge to drain students from the public schools — and fund religious schools. As a recent editorial in this newspaper reveals, the state gives tax breaks to corporations that donate money “that allows disadvantaged students to attend private schools,” which “largely have been exempt from administering accountability measures like the FCAT.” In addition, 83 percent of scholarship recipients go to religious schools. And because the money technically goes to students first, then to schools, the state pretends it is not funding religion.

It is not “uniform” for Florida to have created a rogue, online Virtual School. In the words of a recent Tampa Bay Times article, “in a state that puts a premium on standardized testing, there is no clear, across-the-board measure to compare the performance of Florida Virtual students to those in brick-and-mortal schools.”

Read Goldstein’s piece in its entirety here.

Meanwhile corporate and taxpayer financed edu-privateers insist upon separate rules for their charter schools and voucher school benefactors.

How, for example, does requiring all private school teachers to be state certified hold schools responsible for results? A state certified teacher is an input, not a result. This is clearly an example of someone using the word “accountability” to mean “sameness,” not “holding responsible for results.”

The misuse of the term appears to be rooted in a belief that it might be unfair, or even hypocritical, to operate school choice programs without subjecting private schools to the same rules as traditional district schools…..


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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