T. Willard Fair trades children’s futures for 30 pieces of silver

Willard T. Fair a former chairman of the Florida State Board of Education, the president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Greater Miami Inc., and a member of the Foundation for Florida’s Future board of directors started an editorial in the Sunshine State News saying Senator David Simmons was talking bad about poor parents.

“Put bluntly, it goes like this: Poor people make poor parents. “

I was initially outraged and ready to take the senator to task but then I read the whole article and I realized it was Mr. Fair that has lost all sense of reason.

This is what the senator said, “Let’s face it, the parents are the very people who haven’t been involved in their own children’s lives so as to cause the school to improve. What kind of credibility do you give to the parents in those kinds of circumstances?”

I don’t disagree with the senator one bit. By hook or by crook too many parents have abdicated their responsibilities and that has led to many or our school problems especially those in our poorer neighborhoods. This is not to say all poor parents are bad far from it. What Mr. Fair doesn’t realize, probably because he was too busy being outraged is that there are wonderful things going on even at our so called struggling schools. The thing is the vast majority of these successes are occurring with the students of parents that act like parents. Successes are far and few between for the kids of parents who don’t care.

Mr. Fair then goes on to complain about the historic neglect of these schools and insinuates that school districts and unions have used them as out-of-sight, out-of-mind depositories for ineffective personnel. Now I don’t doubt that in the past there was neglect and some districts did staff them with questionable personnel, not that the union has ever staffed anyone anywhere but this is 2013. Title one makes sure our poorer schools get more resources and it is Mr. Fairs own school choice crowd that makes sure those schools are staffed with an ever revolving door of novice teachers. It is Gary Chartrand, Jeb Bush and Fair himself who set up those policies.

Yes parents do deserve some of the blame perhaps even the lions share but don’t discount the role that Tallahassee has played. They have had a devastating effect on the schools in our poorer, predominately minority neighborhoods.

His righteous indignation hits a fevered pitch when he talks sarcastically about how parents can’t be trusted with improving their children’s schools. He suggests “they will get bamboozled into turning their school over to some nefarious profiteer. And during the process, they will squabble amongst themselves and create discord in the community.”

Well the history of the parent trigger says he is right but the bigger point is parents already have tremendous options. They can join the PTA, every school has a SACommittee, they can volunteer in their children’s schools, petition their school boards for change and even get involved in local politics themselves. Their options are legion!

Giving away public assets to for profit companies more concerned with the bottom line who have a terrible track record should not be one of them. Disregarding democracy which is something you don’t get with a corporation should not be one of them. Furthermore public schools whether they are in our personal neighborhood or not, whether we have a child attending one or not belong to all of us.

His final point after some more union bashing is, “the reason there are a growing number of charter schools, the reason for the long waiting lists, the reason why vouchers are so coveted, is because parents want them. And of course the only intellectually honest rebuttal to that demand is that these parents don’t know what is best for their children.

To which I reply, lies, big lies and damn lies. 226 charter schools have closed in Florida alone over the last 12 years, vouchers often take kids to schools without qualified staffs or effective curriculums and the long waiting list argument has been thoroughly debunked. Those are some things the Fair obviously doesn’t want you to know.

Fair has jumped the shark and any pretence that he cares about the poor kids he laments about is just that, pretense. He has thoroughly joined the corporate reform movement taking his 30 pieces of silver all the way to the bank.

For shame Mr. Fair, for shame.

To read his piece, click the link: http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/troubling-attitude-about-low-income-parents

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