I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Victory For Local Government Control

In 2006, the Florida Legislature enacted section 1002.335, Florida Statutes, which created the mechanism by which a State Level Entity, The Florida Schools of Excellence Commission, wrestled away from local district school boards the exclusive authority to authorize charter schools. Several District School Boards, to include Escambia County, challenged this law in court. Fast forward two years, and today the local school districts unanimously won the exclusive authority appeal in the district court. The court agrees with the dozens of Florida School districts in that local district school boards, under title IX section 4 of the Florida Constitution, should have the exclusive authority to authorize charter schools within their respective districts. Read the entire decision here:

This decision, a vindication of sorts for the local control purists, brought to mind some interesting “pop culture” quotes. As I thought about this issue, I thought about a couple of quotes relating to organizations and the importance of “control”.

Bill Parcells, one of the greatest coaches to ever walk an NFL sideline (In my opinion), once famously said:

“They want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries”

What did that mean? The quote was made after the 1996 NFL Football season of coaching that saw Parcells take the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl. The Patriots lost Super Bowl XXXI to the Green Bay Packers, 35-21 and Bill Parcells resigned as the Patriots head coach five days later. Three days after his resignation, Parcells was hired as head coach of the Patriots’ arch-rival, the New York Jets. Asked about his abrupt departure from the Patriots during his first official New York Jets news conference, Parcells wryly stated:

“They want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries”

Parcells-- frustrated at having several of his decisions (particularly draft choices) second guessed and in some cases overruled by the Patriots team owner-- knew that if he was in charge of an organization, he needed to have decision making control. His move to the Jets allowed him control.

Similarly, Robert Di Nero’s character Sam “Ace” Rothstein from 1995’s film Casino said: (about being offered the chance to run an organization) “You know if I did it, I'd have to run it my way, I'm serious, no interference.”

Parcells and Rothstein both had a valid point. Who would want a title, responsibility, and accountability for an organization’s operations/achievements--- without control?

School districts are nothing like NFL Football teams or Giant Casino Operations. School districts are, however, large organizations that should be locally controlled. Unfortunately, much of the autonomy of local boards has been eroded. Local boards are constantly being force-fed a seemingly endless array of mandates from the State and Federal Government. I am an advocate for local control, and when a district is held accountable for its success and achievement, that district should have the opportunity to “shop for some of our own groceries” with “no interference.”


CenterForEducationReform said...

Yesterday's Florida First District Court of Appeals ruling striking down the Florida Schools of Excellence Commission (FSE) is dead wrong and demonstrates a political opinion rather than a judicial opinion. Since Florida's original charter school law was passed by the legislature in 1996, special interest groups have sought to repeal it.

The Florida Schools of Excellence Commission (FSE) was created by law in 2006 as an alternative public entity to authorize and manage quality charter schools. Courts in other states with similarly structured authorizers have upheld that these are constitutionally acceptable public entities. Florida's constitution permits the legislature to create and fund public education. School districts in Florida do not have exclusive franchise over schools they do not create.

Jeff Bergosh said...

I am generally agreeable to most educational reform ideas, to include charter schools; However, as a locally elected school board member, I would like to see local boards retain more local controls, to include the issuance of charters. I understand from your post that you disagree with the DCA unanimous opinion--I feel that they made the right interpretation.

We can agree to disagree on this one.