Florida Times-Union reporter Rhema Thompson has an excellent feature on the chairman of state board of education, Gary Chartrand and his many conflicts of interests which Floridians are expected to just brush aside:
With his official term as chairman of the state Board of Education over, it’s unclear how much longer he’ll occupy one of the state’s highest education seats. Gov. Rick Scott has yet to say whether he will reappoint him to a second term.
But in recent years, Chartrand became one of the strongest and most contentious voices for change in local education, impacting such issues as where children go to school and how much money public schools have to educate them.
He supports expanding charter schools and vouchers for private — often religious — schools, both issues that some education advocates say whittle away enrollment and money from struggling public schools.
He spent $1 million to bring the highly coveted KIPP charter school chain to Florida; and put another $1 million into launching the much-scrutinized nonprofit Teach For America in Jacksonville, a program to help poor schools improve with nontraditional teaching. He also donated more than $5 million to Duval County Public School initiatives to pay for programs ranging from innovative public school initiatives to professional development.
He also cultivated politicians, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to mostly Republican candidates, be they running for the Duval County School Board or the governor.
Taxpayers of any state can handle partisan or ideological political appointees. Someone who has a financial stake in a certain outcome, not so much. Especially someone like Chartrand who has final say in oversight of the state agency which can make those outcomes happen.
Chartrand should never have been appointed to the state school board in the first place. Let alone chairman. His resignation is log overdue.