First California, now Florida!
It’s shaping up to be a VERY interesting year…
As we’ve noted in the last week, here and here, the tide may be turning against teacher’s unions in California. And there’s good news from Florida today on that front.
The St. Petersburg Times has a great story about Florida’s incoming Governor Rick Scott. Let’s keep in mind that Scott is the ultimate outsider in his new job. He is a very successful business executive, a multi-billionaire who was able to fund his own campaign and had to fight both the Republican establishment in Florida as well as the Democrats. He won. And it appears that he’s a guy who may well take no prisoners in the fight to change the way governments work. Starting with schools.
ST. PETERSBURG — Florida Gov.-elect Rick Scott on Thursday blew the door wide open to the idea of a voucherlike program for all students, saying he’s working with lawmakers to allow state education dollars to follow a student to the school his or her parents choose.
But whatever it’s called, the incoming governor, key lawmakers and a foundation tied to former Gov. Jeb Bush are setting the stage for Florida to consider one of the most radical education ideas that it — or arguably any state — has ever considered.
And just guess who’s going to be AT WAR with Governor Scott? I’m guessing the Florida version of the NEA. They’ve opposed any and every change in “education” that gives power to parents. They hated Jeb Bush when he was Governor of Florida because he was a reformer. It looks like Scott is going to take things to the next level and he’s apparently getting key lawmakers on-board but you can bet the battle lines will be drawn and the fight will be viscous.
Sherman Dorn, an education professor at the University of South Florida, said the idea would likely face the same legal hurdles as Florida’s first voucher program. The Florida Supreme Court struck down Opportunity Scholarships in 2006, saying they violated a constitutional provision for a “uniform system of free public schools.”
But Dorn also questioned whether even a Legislature with a newly veto-proof Republican majority would go for it.
Gee, a court fight and a fight with entrenched Republicans. I’m shocked. But Scott has some big things going for him, like the foundation Jeb Bush set up to improve education in Florida, and they’re on-board. And Jeb Bush just happens to be an extraordinarily popular (and powerful) figure in Florida.
According to Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future, the proposal would allow parents to take an undetermined percentage of the state’s per-student funding amount — last year, it was $6,843 — and direct it to the school of their choice, public or private.
Scott was at an event Thursday honoring big business donors to that program when he suggested an even bigger, voucherlike program is on its way. He told a cheering crowd at Suncoast Cathedral, an evangelical church in St. Petersburg, that he wants to expand options that allow students to attend the schools of their choice at public expense.
“We have a great opportunity this spring, in this (legislative) session, to make sure we pass an education bill that is 100 percent for the benefit of the kids, and give every child in the state every opportunity that you’ve had, to make sure that you go to whatever school you want to,” he said.
In an interview later, Scott said there are no details yet, but his education transition team — which is expected to issue recommendations in coming weeks — knows he values the “follow-the-dollars” concept. And he said lawmakers will consider something along those lines in the legislative session beginning in March.
Bush’s think tank will include the proposal among its top legislative priorities.
I think the fact that Bush and his foundation are not just on-board, but directly and heavily involved are extraordinarily important. And let’s not lose track of TheEnemy™ in all of this. Please note that the media, along with Democrats, “public interest groups” and the usual train load of suspects will be going after Scott and his proposal hammer-and-tong. I know I’m repeating myself, but this bears repeating, and often. Just look at the editorial comment that the Times managed to insert …allow students to attend the schools of their choice at public expense… Got that? Parents get to decide and that choice is at “public expense”. Earlier in the article, it was specifically noted that Florida spends $6,843 per student per year on schools. Scott’s program will take “a portion” of that money and direct it to the school of choice. All that’s happening here folks is that funds being spent on schools run primarily by the NEA clones in Florida will redirected to schools that parents feel will do a better job of educating their kids and preparing them for life. No “extra” money is being spent for this.
Good luck Governor Scott! 908 Straight St! is on-board with your efforts on behalf of the Angels and we’ll be following your work.