I hope you like school vouchers, because you are about to start paying for them.

I hope you like School Vouchers that send kids to private
schools, of which over seventy percent are religious, because if you own
property in the state of Florida you are about to for them.  The state board of education proposed raising
school funding by 485 million dollars but only fifty millions of this is going
to come from the state and the rest is going to be generated by higher property
That 435 million dollar figure in increased property taxes
is important because that number is nearly identical to the four hundred
million plus that is diverted from the state coffers to pay for vouchers.
Maybe vouchers were acceptable to some despite the fact the
schools that receive them have barely any financial and academic accountability
when somebody else was paying for them. I wonder how acceptable they will be,
now that we all have to.

I for one would rather see public money sent to public
schools, rather than see money earmarked for the public good diverted to
private schools many of which are religious and have very little accountability both financially and academically especially since it means my taxes are going to go up to pay
for it.

Gary Chartrand a millionaire advocated educating children on the cheap.

The League of Women Voters made a great point about Gary Chartrand the other day. Chartrand wrote an opinion piece that appeared in several news paers around the state which said we should have vouchers because if the students that took them returned to public schools pubic schools wouldn’t be able to afford them.

That’s right this Bard of Education member thinks it is a better plan to have kids go to unregulated schools that have practicality zero accountability and siphon hundreds of millions out of public schools than give public schools the resources they need.

From the League of Women Voters, hartrand makes a case that getting children from poor families out of public schools saves the rest of us money.  There may be another not so hidden agenda that Chartrand forgets to mention.

In a Tampa Bay Times column, Chartrand lists the following arguments in support of using tax credits for corporations who divert their taxes to private school scholarships.  He objects to the Florida Education Association lawsuit on the subject.  He argues that:
  • 78,000 mostly minority students would hit the schools if the tax credit vouchers went away.
  • Florida is projected to add 100,000 students over the next five years.  Building schools would cost at least $1.3 billion even if under enrolled public schools were filled.
  • Tax credit vouchers cover 80% of the per student funding public schools receive.  So, if those children entered public schools, it would cost $111 million more to make up the difference.
  • Tax credit scholarship are aimed at students of limited means. Their average household income is $24,000.  (Of course, the income cap for eligibility was much lower until last year.)
  • Corporate tax credits saves Floridians $1.44 for every dollar in credits corporations contribute to private schools.  (A smoke and mirrors view?)
There is another way to look at these numbers.
  • 78,000 mostly minority students are in schools with no standards or accountability.  Florida has abandoned them.
  • Only 12% of these children come from schools graded ‘D’ or ‘F’ according to the David Figlio report commissioned by the Florida Department of Education.
  • An April 2015 Orlando Sentinel article reports that half of the schools have under 100 students and hundreds of the 1100 schools have under 50 students.
  • The DOE reports that 73% of the private schools that take FTC scholarships tend to be very small religious schools.  In 2013, 127 taught creationism.
  • Public schools are under enrolled in low income areas due to vouchers and charters.  The vacancies make public schools less able to meet student needs, and the private schools cannot afford to even try.  Dividing up the money this way only ensures no sector has enough to do the job.
  • The law suit was filed when the legislature raised the income eligibility to $62,000.  This, for most Florida families, is not low.
  • Saving money on the education of students who needs are greater than most has visible consequences.    The Florida DOE Figlio reports show that achievement is not improved for students with tax credit vouchers.
  • Private and charter school real estate companies or churches are the big beneficiaries of school choice. The public pays for privately owned facilities.  Money comes out of already low salaries and benefits for teachers in those scchools.  The private sector makes millions; the children lose.

Gary Chartrand a grocer by trade who spared no expense to send his kids to exclusive private schools that don’t accept vouchers is once again on the wrong side of whats best for our children.

Superintendent Vitti once again shows his deference to charter schools.

Superintendent Vitti had a real opportunity in the Times
Union today to stick up for public schools and push back against charter
schools. When news of the charter school at Murray hill was closing hit, he could
have said, the district will work hard to get rid of charter schools that
provide duplicate services, siphon away resources and that do a poor job when
compared to the district’s schools.

Instead he shrugged his shoulders and said, “It speaks to the
level of collaboration that should exist between districts and charters.” This
after the district allowed two poor performing sister schools
which are also  for profit,
to continue.

district should ask itself one question when approving and/or allowing charter
schools to exist and that is, can they do a better job than the district. If
that’s the case the district should be as helpful as possible but if not and
friends the vast majority of times the answer is no they can’t, then the
district should do all they can to get rid of them.   

Wouldn’t you rather have a superintendent willing to fight tooth
and nail for our kids and schools or one who thinks it is okay to partner with mercenaries
and charlatans that do worse? I know I would rather have one wiling to fight.

Are vouchers causing property taxes to grow?

From WJXT: The proposal approved Wednesday by the board would boost spending to $7,209.39 per student, an increase of $104.33, or 1.47 percent, over the current year.

However, only $50 million of the $475.9 million hike in funding would come from the state. The other $425.9 million would come from local property taxes that make up a key part of the formula for education spending. That approach has drawn criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, who equate it to a tax increase.


Well friends last year the Voucher program diverted over four hundred million dollars from the state coffers and this is a program that is allowed to grow by twenty-five percent a year.

Some people contend that vouchers save money and I will admit it is probably a lot cheaper to run a school that doesn’t provide as many services, than it is to run a district but in public schools buses still have to run, teachers have to teach and the lights cost the same whether there is 30 kids in a class or 20.  It diverts resources away and that has costs.

Then why do corporations get this tax break but people don’t, you know regular folds like you and me. Why can’t we take advantage of it and have the corporations pay their fair share to the state coffers? Oh its because we don’t matter.

Vouchers are a bad deal, for children and a bad deal for tax payers.

The Times Union prints anther pro-voucher letter.

Doug Tuthill of Step up for Students the states voucher provider wrote the Times Union to advocate for them and he conveniently left out the millions and millions of dollars in administration fees his organization takes in.
He also left out how vouchers have practically no academic and financial accountability, how the money overwhelmingly goes to religious schools and how since the program is allowed to grow twenty-five percent a year soon it will take a billion dollars out of the state coffers.
In his letter he says vouchers work in harmony with school districts a sentiment not shared by the school board association, the teachers union, the NAACP, the league of women voters and many other organizations but he thinks for some reason, he is right and all the parties actually involved in education are wrong.

If he believes in them so much then why doesn’t he have his boss Tampa millionaire John Kirtley who first donated to and then later hired school board member Jason Fischer who has advocated for charters and vouchers while ignoring the schools in the district he is supposed to represent use his money rather than money meant to benefit us all to pay for them?
The plain and simple of the matter is the school vouchers he advocates for and which circumnavigates the Constitution are a bad deal.

No oversight for Duval’s charter school lotteries

As you know I have real questions about how the KIPP charter schools says they have a wait list while the district says they have never met their max enrollment. Another concern would be how they don’t backfill either.

So I reached out to the district to see if they supervised KIPP’s lottery and they told me they didn’t supervise their or any charter school’s lottery. Later however they might review their paperwork.

So as you can see we are just taking their word for how things are done. And remember some of these charter schools were using the district’s computer system to recruit kids to go to their schools.


Oy vey people, now I wonder what kind of oversight in any capacity we have and let me remind you that last year two charter schools failed here mid year sending the school district and families scrambling.

Over 293 charter schools have failed. 14 in Jax, 4 in the last couple years.
Most have very little in the form of innovation.
As a group they don’t perform any better, most here locally do worse.
Then finally since we expanded charters by 300 percent over the last few years the district grade has dropped to a C.

It’s like we don’t even care.

Gary Chartrand’s class size hypocrisy

From the Tampa Times: Discussing legislative priorities for the coming session, some Florida Board of Education members renewed their desire to see the 2002 class size amendment scaled back in its application.

Calling the law “foolish,” board member Gary Chartrand said he would urge lawmakers to take steps to make it easier for schools to measure class size as a school-wide average rather than a classroom count. He suggested a measure to apply penalties at the school average level — simiilar to a bill that did not make its way through the spring 2015 session.
“I’ve been talking about this since I came on the board four years ago,” Chartrand said. “I want to make sure I’m vocal on my issue.
Gary Chartrand who has never taught so he has no idea what a few extra kids in an already crowded classroom would be like also sent his children to an exclusive private school that touted its small classes, but hey that’s his kids. Our kids can get packed in like sardines. Oh and screw the will of the people who voted for it twice and evidence which says it works.  
He also proposed today we give charter schools many of which are for profit a free seventy million today.
Here is an idea, instead of sending hundreds of millions to private schools and charters lets properly fund the class size amendment. 
This guy is the villain of the story.

Gary Chartrand and his crony capitalism

State board of education member Gary Chartrand, who has
close ties to charter schools wants the state of Florida to spend seventy
million dollars on charter school maintenance and another seventy million dollars
on public school maintenance costs.  Sadly
this is better than in some years past when charters got a hundred million and
public schools didn’t get anything.
There are a little over six hundred charter schools hand a
little over 3,200 public schools in Florida. It hardly seems fair to allocate the
same amount of money for both groups of schools but it goes even worse. Many charter
schools are managed by for profit companies and business has been very good. Why
should we send more money to them, money that will either go to help their bottom
line or fix buildings that don’t belong to the public?  

For profit management companies that operate charter schools
should not see one penny more than the per pupil allotment. I thought
republicans were supposed to be against crony-capitalism.

Some common sense on testing out of Tallahassee?

From Politico Florida:  Some lawmakers hope to ditch Florida’s controversial new state exams by requiring the Department of Education to instead administer existing national exams, like the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills or the SAT college entrance exam…

Florida this year began administering new state exams, developed by Utah-based American Institutes for Research under a six-year, $220 million contract. Because of technical difficulties associated with the administration of the computer-based exams, Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature ordered a separate company to study the tests’ validity, and that report is due by Sept. 1.
Seminole County’s original proposal, which district leaders outlined in a July letter to the department, called for the state to allow schools to administer the Iowa Tests, which have been offered since the 1930s, for younger students, since the federal government requires annual testing in grades three through eight. Students in middle school would take the PSAT, a pre-cursor to the SAT, and students in high school would take the SAT.


I think above is great and the way we should go though I feel obligated to point out that if we did switch we would have wasted millions and millions of dollars. All for a test we won’t know if is valid or not for another week, though I think we all know what the answer is going to be.  

I don’t know what to think about this sudden burst of sanity.

JPEF loses its credibility when it acts as the district’s cheerleader

And when it publishes agenda driven white papers, supports candidates who want to privatize our schools and takes money to put Teach for America in our classrooms but those are other stories.

Today it published, “Five hings that you need to know about the district”

It started off with: 

  1. The new code of conduct is working, and tweaks will further improve it. Last year, the school board passed major updates to the student code of conduct, and made some adjustments for this year’s code of conduct. You can read more about those changes from the perspective of 2013 Teacher of the Year Apryl Shackelford here. Thanks to these and other changes, suspensions were down 34 percent between 2012-13 and 2014-15, the district reported in its 2015-16 profile. Other improvements for this year include the introduction of the Non-Violence Project (NVP) to 24 middle schools, and ongoing partnerships to increase mentorship.
One thing you should know about above and that’s there is exactly one teacher apparently who thinks the new code of conduct is working. Apparently the author has never met a teacher nor has a TV because fight after fight filled the airwaves last spring. Sadly two and three were not much better.
JPEF and this administrations fate and completely tied together, if this administration fails then JPEF will go down with the ship. Instead of parroting district talking points, if I was them I would want to make sure they were doing things the right way.