Two hours after Scathing Purple Musings pointed out that the administrative agent for Florida’s voucher system, Step Up for Students, did not really have a waiting list that Rep. Erik Fresen has been telling everybody about, SUFS CEO Doug Tuthill produced one. Sort of:
For new families who apply and get shut out, or who try to apply in the summer after we’ve already stopped accepting applications, we invite them to sign up for a “contact” list and let them know we’ll notify them as soon as the application for next school year opens up. This year, we ended up with about 30,000 students on this contact list. Inside our organization, we refer to the list of qualified renewal families waiting for a scholarship spot to open up as our “waiting list,” and we refer to the 30,000 students waiting for the new season to open up as our “contact list,” although when the media ask us how many students are waiting for scholarship spots in the fall we often say 34,000, since this is the total number of students who were potentially denied scholarships at the beginning of the school year because of the cap. But this 34,000 does not include students who wanted a scholarship but were not able to apply because we had stopped accepting applications and who never signed up for our contact list. Based on some back-of-the-envelope calculations, I think this last group numbers about 16,000, which is why I’ve been telling the media that without a cap we’d be serving an additional 50,000 students.
No word on why East couldn’t have articulated it that way. All he had to say was that SUFS calls its “waiting list” a “contact list.” Surely Tuthill has their “contact list” whether its 30,000; 34,000; 16,000; or 50,000 – on an actual list that legislators or members of the media can look at.
But it’s doubtful that SUFS will be looking for members of the media anytime soon as they viciously attacked award-winning Washington Post education writer Valerie Strauss yesterday for reporting on East and Fresen’s questionable rhetoric and facts. SUFS mouthpiece Patrick Gibbons tweeted yesterday that Strauss, “lacks scruples what a terrible journalist. Distorts statements on wait list.” Gibbon’s also Tweeted that Strauss “isn’t known for getting the facts on
SUFS’ “how dare you” outrage over their sketchy contact/wait list shouldn’t deflect attention away from real problems with this year’s voucher expansion bill which was pulled by the republican senate sponsor because the whole thing “needed vetting.” SUFS doesn’t want its voucher schools to not take the same tests as do public schools. The bill allows SUFS to share up to $500,000 with another network run by former SUFS exectutives. The current cost to taxpayers has the potential to approach $1 billion. SUFS’s sketchy data is unworthy of such taxpayer trust.