Obfuscation and Maneuvering Surrounding Florida Constitutional Amendment 8.

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Every 20 years a Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) convenes to review and propose changes in the Florida constitution.  The CRC refers constitutional amendments directly to the ballot for a public vote.

The Constitution Revision Commission of 2017-2018 was composed of 37 appointed members.

Here is a summary of CRC Proposal 6003 Adopted 4/16/18, which became Amendment 8.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
66 ARTICLE IX, SECTION 4, NEW SECTION
67 ARTICLE XII, NEW SECTION
68 SCHOOL BOARD TERM LIMITS AND DUTIES; PUBLIC SCHOOLS.—
69 Creates a term limit of eight consecutive years for school board
70 members and requires the legislature to provide for the
71 promotion of civic literacy in public schools. Currently,
72 district school boards have a constitutional duty to operate,
73 control, and supervise all public schools. The amendment
74 maintains a school board’s duties to public schools it
75 establishes, but permits the state to operate, control, and
76 supervise public schools not established by the school board.

In February 2017, Florida State Senate President Joe Negron appointed Patricia Levesque to the CRC by Florida State Senate President Joe Negron.  Ms. Levesque was a co-sponsor of CSC Proposal 6003, Amendment 8

At first glance Amendment 8 seems fine.  People now want terms limits and of course civil literacy should be promoted in public schools.

But what about this sentence:

Currently,
72 district school boards have a constitutional duty to operate,
73 control, and supervise all public schools. The amendment
74 maintains a school board’s duties to public schools it
75 establishes, but permits the state to operate, control, and
76 supervise public schools not established by the school board.

The amendment maintains a school board’s duties to public schools it establishes, but permits the state to operate, control, and supervise public schools they did not establish.

It effectively means charter schools can be set up in a district, but since they were not established by the district, the local school board has no authority over them.  There would still be no local authority since oversight would be done by a different state institution.

Is the motivation driven by charter school advocates who want easy access to building charter schools across the state, therefore potentially making money from operating them?

Ms. Levesque serves on the board of the Florida Charter School Alliance and Executive Director of the Foundation for Florida’s future.

PatriciaLevesqueHeadshot

Patricia Levesque

The Florida Charter School Alliance: 
“Advancing the Charter School Movement in the Sunshine State

Our mission is to increase student achievement and meet the demand for parental choice by advocating for and supporting high quality public charter schools in Florida.”

The Foundation for Florida’s Future: 

“The Foundation for Florida’s Future (FFF) is committed to keeping the promise of a quality education in Florida. The Foundation advances policies that challenge the status quo – policies that will ensure each and every Florida child has access to a quality education that prepares them for lifelong success.”

The FFF webpage lists four “Opportunities” for FFF.  The first listed opportunity is: Charter schools.

“Charter Schools

In 1995, Florida expanded educational opportunities for students by opening its doors to five public charter schools. Fast forward to 2017: more than 283,000 students attend more than 650 public charter schools in 46 school districts (out of 67 total).

Public charter schools are tuition-free public schools open to all students and held to state academic and financial standards. Unlike traditional public schools, however, charter schools are run independently of school districts and, instead, operate under a performance contract with an authorizer (a district, the state, or another approved entity). In exchange for more operational autonomy, charter schools are held accountable for student success.

In 2017, Florida lawmakers passed legislation to bring more high-impact charters to the Sunshine State by recruiting the nation’s most effective charter schools, also known as Schools of Hope, to serve Florida students in persistently low-performing school zones. More than 57,000 students attended persistently low-performing schools in 2016-17.

To learn more about these charter schools, visit the Florida Department of Education’s Schools of Hope webpage.

Florida charter schools are proving to be one of the fastest growing and academically effective sectors in American education. Read ExcelinEd’s Florida Charter School Growth Performance report for more information.”

charter-schools2

The other sponsor of the Amendment was Mrs. Erika Donalds, a Collier County school board members who, according to her bio “…served as a founding Advisory Board Member for Mason Classical Academy, a Hillsdale College public charter school in Collier County.”

Mrs. Donalds is Chief Financial Officer/Chief Compliance Officer, Senior Vice President, and Partner at Dalton, Greiner, Hartman, Maher & Co., LLC (DGHM), an investment management firm.

On June 4, 2018 Mrs. Donalds posted on her Facebook page:

Excited to announce the launch of our campaign to pass Amendment 8 in November! Please DONATE & SHARE and let’s get TERM LIMITS for school board members & improve our public schools!

 We are GOING LIVE Monday June 4. Insiders can get in on this now. Go pledge $8 to make our ST8 GR8.
* TERM LIMITS of 8 years for School Board Members
* Innovation in our Free Public Schools
* Civics Literacy Education
https://www.8isgreat.org/launch_moneybomb

Is this obfuscation, “the action of making something obscure, unclear?”   Why wouldn’t you vote for term limits? And civic literacy education?

Equally as disturbing is this wording which is an attack on home rule:

permits the state to operate, control, and
76 supervise public schools not established by the school board.

Isn’t this an attempt to circumvent local control of education and start controlling things from Tallahassee?  Does Tallahassee believe it should control every meaningful activity?

Since education is a very meaningful activity should Tallahassee control it?  Might this be this the first step around local control of and local decision making for the education of the children of our community?

Our reporting on this subject will continue.  What does Shawn Frost, Chairman of the Board for public school District of Indian River County and his advocacy for state control of charter schools, have to do with Amendment 8?

And how AlterNet, a progressive news magazine owned by AlterNet Media, Inc. has reported that two little-understood tax policies helped pave the way for the kind of charter growth we are seeing today.

2 thoughts on “Obfuscation and Maneuvering Surrounding Florida Constitutional Amendment 8.

  1. Pingback: Shawn Frost, FL School District Board Chair is in a Position to Profit from Florida Amendment 8. | Vero Communiqué

  2. Pingback: Florida’s 8isGreat.org., Howard Rich and the Koch Brothers. | Vero Communiqué

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