Guidelines

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.








Friday, August 29, 2014

Lawsuit Seeks to Limit Choice and Opportunity

Special Interests, Unions, and Lobbyists Want Total Control over Florida's Students, Taxpayers, and Families.... 


Several leading (self-anointed) state education advocacy associations, led by the statewide teacher’s union, have filed a lawsuit Thursday assaulting school choice for some Florida families.  This lawsuit seeks to end the nation’s largest tax-credit scholarship program, a program that serves nearly 70,000 students statewide and 944 in Escambia County alone.   This wildly popular program serves primarily poor minority students and all taxpayers benefit- as the cost per pupil in this program runs about 50% of the cost per pupil in the traditional public school systems.

Accountability is built-in.  Student progress is measured, and the gains made by students in this program roughly equate to the progress the students in traditional public schools achieve year over year.  Opponents counter that the system isn’t fair because students in this scholarship program “don’t take all the exact same tests and FCATs-like public school students must.” 

So, to follow that logic of these tax-credit scholarship critics, because traditional public schools waste so much time over-testing and drilling students on how to take tests-we should foist this same nonsensical practice on tax-credit scholarship schools?  That is ridiculous.  We need to test less across the board-we all know this!

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit want this program killed so they can monopolize education and leave parents NO choices; they think it’s all their money and “We know what’s best for your kid” is their mentality.  But I think we deserve a greater voice in how our tax dollars are spent educating our own children-don’t you?

The plaintiffs state that they worry about the amount of taxpayer money “diverted” from local districts by this tax-credit scholarship that primarily benefits underprivileged minority youth.  But what really worries these special interest groups is the loss of the money “diverted” to their own coffers -via dues memberships fueled by taxpayer funded employees- if this scholarship program grows!

 The plaintiffs espouse the naive belief that money is the panacea to improve school performance and this scholarship program robs Florida of additional money for schools. But they know full well that throwing more taxpayer money at schools doesn't make such schools better.  Look no further than poor quality DC

 and LA public schools (Spending upwards of $30K per student) for proof.

I’m a proponent of public schools, but I’m also a strong advocate for school choice.  These views are not mutually exclusive.   Offering choices in education fosters competition; Adam Smith Economics 101 illustrates that with competition, organizations increase quality and efficiency. 

Currently we have many Florida students that have not found success in our expensive traditional public schools, but have flourished in a lower priced tax-credit scholarship program.   And so-called advocacy groups are trying to kill this program?   Why?

One Escambia parent wrote “Please do not let the FSBA take away this awesome scholarship that my boys are utilizing.”  A local grandparent wrote “Step up for Students has been a godsend for my grandchildren,” and a local school principle stated “If quality education for Escambia County students is the goal, then please help me continue to do my part in training and raising up the next generation by opposing any actions brought about to stop students from being helped by this scholarship.”

Instead of listening to biased, self-obsessed labor unions and other special interest lobbying entities, I’m listening to my constituents; I’m in agreement with them and together we are on the right side of this issue.  

I hope Florida legislators and other education leaders with courage will listen to students, parents, and taxpayers that benefit from this worthwhile program, too. 

2 comments:

Aaron Reynolds said...

If we are going to boast how students in these scholarship programs are successful, then apples need to be compared to apples, meaning that the same testing standards must apply.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Aaron, I don't necessarily disagree with you. Let's just be smart and do it starting with the public schools, and drastically reducing the massive amount of over-testing we are conducting. Like the Geico commercial, everyone knows we are drilling and testing way too much. Let's be smart and not knee-jerk a mandate on tax-scholarship schools that are successful in their current practice of teaching during the day, not testing, testing, testing, drilling, drilling, drilling. The fact that we over-test in public schools should be a concept that draws bi-partisan agreement.