Wow. I never thought I would see such an overt attempt at pushing toward the privatization of an entire state school system as what happened recently in Florida.
Now, I have to be honest and admit that I’m not very knowledgeable about the workings of our educational system and their budgetary concerns. I may be misunderstanding this situation somewhat so, if I am, I hope somebody (Jeff, Dr. Bramhall, are you reading this?) will set me straight. 🙂
I read today that the Florida State House quietly passed a bill containing a few provisions that should concern people that fear more corporate intrusion into a society that already has far too much corporate control.
One of these provisions will force public schools to share a huge portion of their construction budget with charter schools. The proposal would create the Florida Institute for Charter School Innovation in an effort to open more charter schools in the state.
Isn’t there already too much disparity in resources among public school districts? Don’t children in poorer neighborhoods have a tougher road to travel toward graduation without the threat of privatization corrupting the educational system further? We’re already dealing with standardized tests that create additional inequality in our educational system. What’s next, a poll tax on graduation day to receive your diploma?
Another of the provisions is one that would “encourage school districts to adopt mandatory school uniform policies for children in grades K – 8 by offering incentive money” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Yes, we definitely need more effective measures at curtailing creativity in our children by encouraging bland acquiescence to the conformities of the dominant culture. Obedience is already drummed into our children and this is another step toward efficient assimilation – or mindless compliance to systematic behavior conditioning. Diversity is being burned to a crisp inside the vaunted “melting pot” of the good ‘ol U S of A.
The most disturbing thing to come to light is the background of the sponsor of the amendment regarding the construction budget, House Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Erik Fresen, a republican from Miami.
Fresen worked as a “land use consultant” for a firm, Holland & Knight, that helped build several charter schools in Florida. Even more interesting is the fact that his brother works for Academica, which just happens to be the largest charter school management firm in the state.
Researching Erik Fresen, I discovered a few additional tidbits of interesting information:
The Florida Ethics Commission fined him for failing to disclose financial information for four consecutive years from 2008 – 2011.
He once had a lien levied by the IRS for tax evasion.
He has been sued for about $30,000 by a mortgage company for failing to make payments on his house.
He had a lien levied by the Miami-Dade Building Department for a large number of code enforcement violations.
Even his agreement with the Florida State Advocate was rejected by the Ethics Commission due to an ethics violation fine he chose not to pay.
So, not only are a number of state politicians selling the education of the future children of Florida in order to fatten their bank accounts, one of the main architects of the legislation has a criminal track record and has somehow been able to stay in office.
If this isn’t another example of why we need to eliminate private campaign finance, regulate professional lobbying, enforce strict oversight of all levels of government and responsibly fund education, I don’t know what is.