Gary Chartrand, Florida’s most influential and dangerous man. (rough draft)

I don’t believe the average citizen
knows it but Jacksonville is home to one of Florida’s most influential people
in education, Gary Chartrand. Mr. Chartrand created the Professional Education Network
an alternative to teachers unions. He brought both the KIPP impact charter
school and Teach for America to town. He is the chair of the state board of
education and John Peyton, President of the University of North Florida,
Deborah Gianoulis, Director of the Schultz Center, Duval County Public Schools
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, Colleen Wood of Save Duval Schools and Trey Czar,
of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, where Chartrand is also a board
member, all call him Gary. He is without a doubt one of Florida’s most
influential figures in education, and unfortunately most dangerous too.

is his profile form the Florida Department of Education: Gary
R. Chartrand
the Executive Chairman of Acosta. Acosta is a leading full-service sales and marketing
agency, providing outsourced sales, merchandising, marketing and promotional
services to manufacturers in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. The
Company represents more than 160,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs) for over 1,600
manufacturers, and services more than 120,000 traditional grocery stores, mass
merchandisers, club stores, convenience stores, drug stores and natural food
stores, as well as the wholesalers who serve these same channels. The Company
employs over 22,000 associates and operates 64 offices in the U.S. and Canada.

joined Acosta in 1983 as a Business Manager, and subsequently was promoted to
Vice President, Regional Vice President of Florida, President, and in January
1996, President and Chief Executive Officer. Gary became Chairman-Chief
Executive Officer upon the merger of Acosta and PMI-Eisenhart in July 1998.
Under his leadership, Acosta-PMI joined forces with Kelley-Clarke in June 1999,
Morris-Alper in August 1999, and Luke Soules in September 1999. In May 2002, Acosta
expanded services into Canada by acquiring four regional sales and marketing
firms to form a North American network.

has served on the Board of Directors of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
He has served on several Advisory Boards for the consumer products companies
represented by Acosta. Gary received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the
Year Award for the State of Florida in May 2001, and was named to the
Supermarket News Power 50 list from 2003 to 2009, indicating the 50 most influential
people in the industry
currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Chartrand Foundation, Tom
Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, St. Vincent’s Hospital, and Fresh Ministries; He
serves as Chairman of the Board for Acosta, Inc. and the advisory board of CNL
Bank of Jacksonville. He is on the board of the Jacksonville Public Education
Fund and a director on the board of the KIPP schools in Jacksonville, FL. Gary
was appointed to the State Board Of Education by Governor Rick Scott in 2011.
He previously served as a member of the Board of Directors for the I. M.
Sulzbacher Homeless Center in Jacksonville. He is currently serving as a Vice
President of the MDA “Aisle of Smiles” campaign. He is also an
enthusiastic supporter of the Wounded Warrior Program, Catholic Charities,
Guardian of Dreams Catholic Schools, and the Diocese of St. Augustine.

is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire. He resides in Ponte Vedra
Beach with his wife, Nancy. They have two children, Jeffrey and Meredith.
I have to say that is a pretty
impressive resume; he has done some nice things. The reason however I reprinted
it in its entirety is because I want people to see what is missing. Nowhere
does it say teacher or what schools he worked in and that’s because those experiences
are not there. Mr. Chartrand never worked in a school and never taught a class,
yet somehow he has worked his way to the top of the heap. He is the equivalent
of having a plumber who watched a lot of Law and Order on the Supreme Court. Would you go to an accountant for a broke arm or a fireman for legal assistance? No of course not but for some reason Rick Scott thought with all that grocery store experience he was perfect to run our schools.
Perhaps this is the reason his ideas
are so counter productive.
He brought Teach for America to
Jacksonville and they do the opposite of best practices by taking poorly
trained non-education types and putting them in our neediest classrooms.
He brought the
KIPP charter school to town and touted it as a savior, and despite tremendous
advantages, like spending a third more per student and being able to counsel
out poor performers, the school’s grades have been F, B and D, well the latest
would have been a D if the Chartrand rule, the rule that says school grades can
only drop one letter grade even if they are supposed to drop more, hadn’t
He has been on the
state board of education since 2011 and I don’t think it is a coincidence that
Floirda’s A-F grading system after constant tweaking, massaging and adjusting
has reached rock bottom, destroying the few shreds of credibility it had.
Chartrand help
create the states raced based education goals. He doesn’t feel as if black kids
have to do as well as white kids. If you disagree with this then you aren’t the
only one as the Department of Justice recently filed a lawsuit saying the
policy is discriminatory. 
His two choices
for education commissioner have also been less than stellar. First there was
Gerard Robinson who lasted a year before being forced out after a round of
grade inflations and deflations, to be replaced by Tony Bennett who lasted just
seven months before resigning in disgrace after revelations that he altered the
grade of a charter school, owned by a donor that gave him 130 thousand dollars.
The main problem however is he chose commissioners whose main goal was not to
improve education but to privatize it instead.
Throw in his push
for merit pay, which has no evidence that says it works and his criticism of
the class size rule, which has lots of evidence that says it does and it makes
me wonder why anybody who cares about our schools would give him the time of
day. Deborah, Trey, Nikolai, John and Colleen, I am talking to you.
But you know what
is incredibly frustrating? Mr. Chartrand could have done a lot of good had he
checked his ego at the door.  He is rich
and willing to spend money, he knows rich people and has been able to get them
to contribute too. With that and his position in the community he could have
rallied us towards common sense solutions that helped instead of hurt our
hubris accompanies his wealth and position. He thinks just because he is rich
and teachers are not, then he and he alone must have the answers. He doesn’t
get that his solutions are making things worse by siphoning resources out of
schools and by preventing us from implementing real solutions that will
mitigate the crippling effects of poverty and that will help our schools

This guy went from top fifty in grocery store news to
running our schools and it is showing.

2 Replies to “Gary Chartrand, Florida’s most influential and dangerous man. (rough draft)”

  1. As one observes what is happening in our country, we are being led by people who have very little experience in the fields they portray themselves to be experts. The damage is that it hurts our country, economy, military, and know education.
    The students lose, the country loses, and then everyone wonders why? It is time to place people who are qualified and have the relevant experience.
    To do less, is to lose our most valuable resources-our students' futures here in Florida.

  2. Having worked with Gary directly, I can tell you that he is unable to check his ego at the door. To the detriment of many employees and families along the way, he amassed a personal fortune on the backs of his employees. This is not a good man.

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