One would think that an entity which assumed to be the primary steward of almost $1 billion dollars in money belonging to Florida taxpayers would have their numbers straight.
Whatever number families on a voucher waiting list that Step Up for Students finally settles upon will have as much credibility as does the Obama administrations claim to have 7.1 million enrollees in those new Affordable Care Act exchanges.
Those ever-changing SUFS numbers have even backed Florida politicians into a corner. Consider this handy little timeline that Rita Solnet provides in the Huffington Post:
Feb 14Step Up for Students President- 50K –“to completely eliminate those on the wait list..need to fund 50K more students.”
Feb 20Step Up For Students, VP, Jon East- 34K – “we have 34K who started the application process” waiting for funding.
Feb 27House Speaker Weatherford -30K “30K on wait list but only 6K students will benefit in near term if this bill passes.”
Mar 4House Speaker Weatherford’s opening speech – “tens of thousands longing to send their children” to voucher schools.
Mar 4Senate President Gaetz’ opening speech– 10K – “10K students waiting in line for vouchers.”
Mar 5Rep. Manny Diaz- 50K -Diaz must not have heard opening speeches because he told Miami Herald – “50K students are waiting”
Mar 6Jon East, VP, Step Up For Students- 25K – lowered his figure from two weeks priot to now “25K students waiting”
Mar 7Rep Manny Diaz, Jr -25K“25K were not able to receive vouchers this year because we ran out of money.”
Mar 28 Rep Erik Fresen- 100K at House Education Appropriations Hearing– “We have 100K students on the wait list for vouchers.“
Not to be out done, East and SUFS CEO Doug Tuthill managed to get all those numbers in a single post to explain the numbers of their, um, waiting list.
The immediate reaction to a story about SUFS sketchy voucher numbers by respected Washington Post education writer Valerie Strauss was to attack her as unscrupulous. No word yet on whether or not they plan similar attacks on columnists from the Tampa Bay Times and Palm Beach Post for their recent critical columns.
Protestations from SUFS focused on “twisted words” and “imagined conspiracy theories” filtered through lectures on “the law,” aren’t fooling many people. Which republican legislator steps up (pun) to advance the new talking points is anyone’s guess. Big money (pun) is on Fresen. But bad news about dicey education programs doesn’t play as well in the Senate.
Step Up for Students desperate spin campaign won’t be enough when Florida legislators remember that taxpayers read the newspapers.