Accountability in Florida is for public schools not charters or vouchers

Despite the fact over 250 charter
schools have opened, taken tax payer money, let down communities and children
and failed over the years I n Florida the legislature wants to make it easier
to open charter schools.  They also want
to up the amount  of vouchers given and
the value of vouchers too while pushing back against people who want the kids
to take them to have to take the same test given to public school kids.

This what John Romano in the Tampa Times wrote:    Call me picky, but here’s what I don’t

If we’re going to circumvent the
Florida Constitution, ignore the state Supreme Court, and funnel tax dollars to
churches, shouldn’t accountability be a larger part of the equation? You know,
if only to give the appearance of fiscal responsibility?
Because Will Weatherford’s plan to
radically expand the school voucher system sounds curiously like the kind of
entitlement he deplores when it comes to health care.
No longer content to limit vouchers
to poor families and confine the money source to corporate tax credits, the
state House speaker now proposes to expand the pool of eligible students and
divert sales tax funds to support them.
Or, to put it another way, to
continue a systematic decimation of Florida public schools.
In case you need a refresher, the
Jeb Bush voucher system allows students to leave struggling schools and apply
nearly $5,000 in tax money to pay for private school. More than 80 percent
end up at religious-based schools.
Now, in some ways, this is a noble
endeavor because it gives a lot of minorities an alternative. From their
vantage point, it’s a grand idea.
From every other point of view,
there are gaping, glaring, potentially calamitous issues. For starters, every
dollar that goes to private schools is a dollar not spent on public schools.
Even without Weatherford’s proposed expansion, the tax money being diverted is
expected to exceed $350 million next year.
Coupled with more than $1 billion
being shipped off to charter schools, that’s a crippling budget drain on a
system that was already 48th in the nation in per-pupil spending, according to
the Census.
In essence, we’re purposely starving
our own public schools.
Making matters worse, our
Legislature is obsessed with public school accountability. Students are held
back, teachers evaluated and schools graded based on a slavish devotion to FCAT
testing. And amid the current curriculum upheaval, the education commissioner
will not suspend school grading for even one year because she says it’s too
darned important.
Yet tax dollars flow into private
schools with little attention to accountability. Less than 10 percent of those
schools are even required to divulge scores from FCAT-style tests, and there
are no defined consequences for subpar results. As for curriculum and
standards? Private schools are free to treat evolution as some goofy scientific
Senate President Don Gaetz wants
more accountability, but the House has always loathed that idea.
Most galling of all is that the
Florida Supreme Court ruled vouchers violated the state’s constitution in 2006
and ever since, the Legislature has been passing laws to duck, finesse, evade
and weasel out of fiduciary responsibilities.
“The state, as far as I’m
concerned, is in violation of the Constitution,” said Hillsborough County
Commissioner Les Miller, who fought vouchers as a legislator in 2006. “Why
aren’t we improving our schools instead of handing tax dollars to private
Sadly, we are used to hypocrisy from
our leaders in Tallahassee. But this is bold even for them. This is hypocrisy
on a grand, in-your-face and to-heck-with-the-law level.
If we demand accountability in
public schools, then private schools should have to accept the exact same level
of scrutiny if given public funds.
You can’t have it both ways.
I would only add that the legislature
can’t purposely break public education, something it seems like is their sole
purpose and then go look its broken lets replace it with something else, especially
when that replacement is substandard and whose main purpose is to make their
friends, donors, family members, and often case themselves rich. 
Well, I guess in Florida it can.

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