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.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Tallahassee Democrat Publishes Op-Ed on Union Lawsuit

Last week, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper published this piece by the president of the organized statewide teacher's union in Florida.  The article was badly biased, inaccurate, and totally incorrect.  The Democrat allowed a rebuttal to appear in yesterday's (Sunday) edition, and it was a piece that I submitted.  You can find it here.

I feel it is arrogant for this special interest group, the FEA, to try to tell the legislature what laws and programs it can/can't pass---and then to go to court to try to scuttle this program after it was duly enacted by the legislature and Governor---this is overtly aggressive!  The Union is out of their lanes here---this is not taxpayer dollars at issue here, and to suggest otherwise is disingenuous.

For this special interest group to try to tell corporations it is somehow wrong for them to donate to scholarship programs that primarily benefit minority students is reprehensible.  To spread mischaracterizations about this program is  wrong.

I hope that many legislators saw both pieces and realize that the special interest labor unions do not speak for all of us that are invested in Public Education in the state of Florida!

From Sunday's Op-ed:

"I, too, am an active participant and believer in public education as an elected Escambia School Board member. But I see far too much self-interest in her claims that choice is bad for these parents. In her recent “My View” in the Democrat, Ms. McCall offered some dubious claims about this 15-year-old scholarship program:
The private schools “make their own rules about testing” – though the law requires them to use a test approved by the state.
“They don’t have to prove to the state that they are using public money wisely” – though the law requires an independent accountant’s report for any school receiving more than $250,000.
Scholarship students are “being harmed” academically – though seven consecutive years of standardized test results tell us they are achieving the same gains as students of all incomes nationally.
Like Ms. McCall, I too want every student to thrive in our district schools. But different children learn in different ways, and these scholarship children lack the financial means to access a private school. So why must we view this opportunity as an attack on public education?One thing that is clear to me as a school board member is that this scholarship is not the cause of any fiscal challenges we may face. These scholarships are only 80 percent of what we would have to spend for the same children in our district schools, and reputable analyses by independent agencies have shown without exception that the program saves tax money.Just imagine the hole it would blow in our district budgets if the union persuaded the Florida Supreme Court to evict 78,000 poor students and they suddenly show up in district schools? The cost to build schools alone could be well over a billion dollars. The most nagging conceit is that every education dollar is owed exclusively to us, as school boards and teacher unions, and that any dollar spent to allow students to pursue different paths to success is a “diversion.”

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