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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What is IFCAA?

"I recently met a very powerful statewide education leader at a conference in Washington DC, and while discussing my latest frustration with the FSBA, their lawsuit attempting to kill the tax-credit scholarship that benefits 1,000 primarily poor and minority students in Escambia County, this leader simply, wryly, said “Why do you keep funding them, then?”  He makes a great point.  Why do we?  IFCAA, my legislative proposal, fixes this problem.  IFCAA is a mechanism that allows each individual board member to allocate (or not expend at all) his/her individual portion of a taxpayer funded board, committee, council, and/or commission’s advocacy budget."

IFCAA stands for the Individual Freedom of Choice in Advocacy Act--A method for disrupting "Iron Triangles."  

IFCAA (Individual Freedom of Choice in Advocacy Act) is a proposal I have developed and given to Escambia’s legislative delegation, members of the Florida House and Senate, and to other conservative school board members around the state.

As school board members we are duly elected, individual constitutional officers-just like County Sheriffs, elected Superintendents of Schools, Supervisors of Elections, Tax Collectors, Property appraisers, etc.  

Unlike the individual officeholders mentioned above, however, our individual choice in advocacy for our constituents is handcuffed by a system that stifles individual officeholders’ choice.

What do I mean?

If the statewide “Sheriff’s” advocacy organization suddenly started advocating for ideals contrary to what an individual Florida County Sheriff believed—that individual Sheriff could (and would) rightly withhold the dues from said organization, or  choose to fund a different law enforcement advocacy organization that more accurately represented the ideology of this sheriff and his constituents. 

Same for Superintendent’s, Supervisors of Elections, Property Appraiser’s, Tax Collectors, and the list goes on...

Every office in the state that has an officer or board also has a professional advocacy “association.” These “organizations” receive massive taxpayer subsidies from state and local officeholders.
As school board members, we send taxpayer funding for advocacy to the Florida School Boards Association (FSBA).  

While the FSBA has done many beneficial things in the past, recently they’ve made some choices and decisions that have alienated conservative members; something must change.

The distinction between individually elected office-holders and members of elected boards is that the advocacy organizations that purport to represent us as bodies or units sometimes neither represent many of us individually nor do they represent the collective values of our individual constituencies. 

Worse--sometimes these very organizations actively work against what many of us want, yet we’ve no choice individually but to fund them.

This isn’t $30 to NRA or $50 to AARP —For the Escambia’s Board, FSBA’s price tag is more than $20,000.00 yearly!

While discussing my significant disagreement with FSBA’s lawsuit (attempting to kill the tax-credit scholarship that benefits 70,000 primarily poor and minority students statewide), a powerful, statewide education leader simply, wryly, stated “Why do you keep funding them, then?” 

Why do we keep funding them?

FSBA didn’t represent my views when they supported the class size mandates that blew up the budget-destroying our ability to significantly raise teacher pay.

FSBA didn’t represent my views when they sought to block necessary tenure reform in Florida, yet I had no choice but to fund them.

FSBA has ignored every conservative idea I have submitted for six years running for their statewide

 platform—and yet I had no choice but to fund them.

Truly fiscal conservative school board members are a rare species in Florida.  Therefore, even if we vote “no” to fund our “advocacy” organizations yearly, a majority vote will still pass, ensuring 100% of the money still goes to our “advocates.”

The only way to fix this problem is to change Florida statutes to allow all constitutional officers, including individual board members, the ability to allocate their portion (or withhold their portion) of the annual taxpayer-funded advocacy budget—individually. 

This will force these “advocates” to listen to and respect the opinions of the minority dissenters, lest they lose their funding.   It will make organizations compete. It will force associations to seek consensus, rather than status quo maintenance.

IFCAA facilitates this- allowing each individual constitutional officer to allocate (or to not expend) his/her individual portion of a taxpayer funded board’s yearly advocacy budget, assuring  those constituencies holding minority  views  the chance to be fairly and accurately represented.


Gulagathon said...

Hopefully IFCAA passes so individuals can have more pull, and more of a voice that will be heard. With some people going this way and some going that way, how can we get to where we have got to go. I think this would help, if folks aren't getting their money, they're going to listen so that they can get it. A levelheaded cohesive constructive unit can help to steer education out of this mess. Individual board members controlling where their portion of the money goes should be how it is. I never knew that each board member had their own portion of the budget.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Well we each don't and that is the rub. It is a simple majority vote that sends $20K yearly to the group that is trying to kill the tax credit scholarship program that costs half of what we spend per pupil, and the same program that parents and students around the state have begged us to not end. They love this program, and there are many good reasons to keep it going, however our advocacy organization, FSBA, initiated the litigation to end this worthwhile program that benefits primarily poor and minority students. It is for this reason that I developed IFCAA, as a mechanism to reign in the "advocacy" organizations and make them at least consider opinions of conservative board members, lest they lose the funding portion from individual, conservative board members from around the state like me that are disgusted by this lawsuit. I had a very good radio appearance on this topic, on 1620 AM with Andrew McKay. The podcast of that appearance is here:

Gulagathon said...

Seems like FSBA and groups like them aren't thinking about the long time effects of their decisions and education as a whole. The minority kids already have to overcome so much more than kids from suburban households, schools and neighborhoods. The kids from two parent households with comfortable incomes get all of the breaks. And really any kid will have more opportunities coming from a two parent household, but in this environment that we are living in, it's pretty much designed for minority kids to struggle more from birth and throughout childhood because of coming from a broken home.

So these kids need all the opportunities and assistance that they can get, especially if the kids are motivated. They have less money, so if they can get extra educational opportunities then they should be able to get it. If groups like the FSBA can't recognize how important the extra help is, then there is something extremely wrong going on here.

The more we have kids who are less well off, and it continues throughout their lives, and unhealthy social behaviors develop because of this, everybody is going to feel the wrath of all of these psychologically uncared for, latchkey common core kids. The kids need the extra money, they need the programs, they need society to care. Especially the kids who care themselves.