Gary Chartrand in a new TU op ed wants you to think he cares about your kids, he doesn’t.

Gary Chartrand a grocer by trade parlayed huge donations to Rick Scott into a spot on the state board of education despite the fact he had zero education experience and in an op ed to the Times Union he wants you to believe he cares about your children but the truth is he doesn’t.

He says that being in a good public school depends on the zip code you live in and nothing can be farther from the truth.  There are great public schools in every zip code even though there may be a difference in performance on state wide tests. The reason is poverty, something he has spent his life ignoring. Quite simply put, children as a group that live in neighborhoods mired in poverty don’t do as well as children who don’t. Chartrand would have you believe it is the schools fault ignoring the fact that here in Florida we invest very little in education when compared to other states.

Chartrand says, if there is a school that is doing as well as he thinks it should, then parents should be allowed to leave and take their children to any school, he says this while neglecting to inform the public that he sent his children to expensive and exclusive private schools, that had small classes, a wealth of electives and weren’t required to take standardized tests, or the opposite of where he expects our children to go.

What he calls choice, is really a hodge-podge of privatization where children can go to charters many of which are for profit and offer little or nothing in the way of innovation and private schools that accept vouchers, that don’t have to have certified teachers, or even teachers with degrees and where many teach junk curriculum, that says slaves were really free if they had Jesus in their heart and humans lived with dinosaurs. Furthermore the vast amount of these private schools don’t even have to report how they spend the money which has been diverted from the tax rolls. This all happens at the expense of public schools who every year are required to do more with less. 

Then you have to be careful, not to listen what he is saying but to watch he is doing. For several paragraphs in his op ed he extols the virtues and accomplishments of traditional public schools, how well they did on the NEAP and with A.P. classes. While behind the scenes no one has been a bigger champion of vouchers, charters and other corporate reforms which include putting temporary workers in class rooms and these things are done at the expense, to the detriment of traditional public schools.

If school choice was about giving more parents high quality public school options, then nobody would have an issue, but that’s not what choice is and that is also not what Gary Chartrand is selling.

If we want to have better schools, and I freely concede that our public schools have issues, though I hope you concede that many of these issues were created by people like Chartrand who seek to replace them, then we need to properly invest in our public schools. Something Florida does not do.

Chartrand is the villain of the story a zealot who thinks because he is rich who hates organized labor  he knows it all. He should be dismissed as the charlatan he is.

To read his op ed, click the link, https://www.jacksonville.com/opinion/20190127/guest-column-parents-want-opportunity-to-choose-best-school-for-their-kids

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