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Peace & Justice Report this Wednesday 12/13/17 9 a.m. – Education!

Written by on Monday, December 11, 2017

As our first guest this week, we’ve invited  George McDermott, writer, poet, editor and teacher. He’ll talk about his career as an educator and author and about his book What Went Right: Lessons from Both Sides of the Teacher’s Desk which answers such questions as

What makes a teacher or a class memorable?

How can the teacher-student relationship be supported and strengthened?

What does being “educated” truly mean? and

What role can free public education play in sustaining our democracy?


On the second half of our show our guest will be Carol Lerner, leader of the new group Protect Our Public Schools – POPS. This group is an offshoot of Manasota Move to Amend.  From their blog:

The primary concern was the privatization of our public schools. On Tuesday, we had our second meeting. Thanks to The Reserve for letting us meet there.

Carol Lerner started the meeting  by explaining some of the components in HB7069, which was recently signed into Florida law. It contains an empty body with one 278 page amendment with manifold provisions to siphon taxpayer funds from public schools to private coffers. HB7069 provides more taxpayer funds for private and charter schools – including an expansion of vouchers, bringing in Schools of Hope to replace low performing public schools, and requiring capital outlays to charter schools. This will undoubtedly lure even more profit-driven schools to open up in Florida. Sarasota County School Board Member, Shirley Brown, wrote an excellent editorial about the situation in Critical Times.

We are very fortunate in Sarasota County to have some excellent charter schools that serve our children well. The rest of Florida has not been so lucky. The League of Women Voters of Florida, the Center for Democracy, and the League of United Latin American Citizens recently completed a report summarizing Florida Charter Schools’ Poor Performance, which you can download here.

The Sarasota Herald Tribune reported one consequence of the new legislation for Sarasota County is a requirement to give $9.3 million to charter schools for capital improvements and maintenance this year. The County had already allocated $5.5 million. The extra money must be taken from the public school budget and given away, regardless of whether it is needed. And finally, the County will not retain ownership of any of the capital assets that might be purchased with these taxpayer funds.

What is pushing Florida toward more charter schools, even with their overall poorer performance? The Florida Times Union, a Jacksonville newspaper, followed some of the money flowing from charter schools into political PACs and campaigns. Read their exposé here. Sue Legg, a Florida League of Women Voters expert in charter schools explains

“Regulating charters is difficult in Florida. Most key education committees are run by legislators with personal ties to charters.”

And don’t take your eyes off the money. Donations from charter school management companies are now headed toward Florida’s local school board races.