Thursday, January 12, 2012

Florida: Parent, community member, and tax payer opposition strengthens

Florida legislators introduced a Parent Trigger bill, calling it the Parent Empowerment Act. Under the bill, parents and teachers could vote to turn a public school into a charter school if 51% agree and the local elected school board has no say in the matter. However, in a combined statement, these Florida parent groups have come out publicly opposing the legislation:

  • Florida PTA
  • Fund Education Now
  • Citizens for Strong Schools
  • 50th No More
  • Marions United for Public Education
  • Save Duval Schools
  • Support Dade Schools

The Tampa Gradebook reports Parents Across America - Florida opposes the bill.

Bill sponsors Rep. Michael Bileca, a Miami Republican and Senate deputy majority leader Lizbeth Benacquisto of Fort Myers did not comment on the opposing parent views.

Parent trigger advocates fail to acknowledge the lack of accountability at the federal and state for over ten years of failed education policy that developed both the US DOE and Florida DOE into overblown bureaucracies. Parent triggers merely change the deck chairs; but do not address the underlying expensive, expanding, and experimental unfunded and unfundable mandates driving U.S. education into the ground.

One central issue is the obsession with high stakes assessment, which has turned classrooms into testing centers instead of environments of learning. Florida is one of the recipients of Race to the Top funding and participating in the development of national assessments based on the common core curriculum. This initiative will increase the assessments students will take during the school year. In response, a petition is circulating to empower parents to opt-out of the FCAT.

The data required for the high stakes assessments and complex accountability systems rely on the student longitudinal database. New regulatory changes allows some student data to be shared with research organizations and governmental agencies without parent consent. Security and privacy concerns go unaddressed.

Florida is the next stop for the Republican primary candidates. So far, these important education matters have gone ignored at federal and state levels. Will that change? If not, Republicans are on notice with yet another petition.

Here's a petition you can sign and know exactly what you're signing: "Stop the Dept. of Education's Power Grab." The petition faults the media for never asking about education in the GOP debates; it faults the GOP for manipulating the candidates in such a way that the strongest candidate is the one who says nothing about education, and for pretending to be the opposition party when it accepts education reforms with open arms.

What do we want the winning GOP candidate to say? A few things:

1. Acknowledge that American public education is going bankrupt. We believe this fact is as important as the Afghan war or gay marriage. A civilization that ignores its young will not have a long life span.

2. Point out and oppose the great rip-offs of local control inherent in Obama's "Race to the Top" and "Common Core Standards": the dissemination of your family's personal information from the Dept. of Education to the federal government at large, a payout to publishing and testing corporations totaling $30 billion nationwide which the states will have to pay (who knows how?). The schools get nothing but the shiny new standards, laid off teachers, and, for the first time, control of curriculum from Washington.

To learn more, please go to the petition, scroll down to the bio of the petition author and the automatic signer. If you agree with our petition, sign it and send it to people and sites you think would agree. Thank you!

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