The parent trigger is headed for a showdown in Florida’s Senate on Friday, and it is worth remembering that the bill was greeted in January with bipartisan support on education committees in both chambers. Suffice it to say, warm and fuzzy has now left the Capitol.
Defeating SB 1718 has become the top priority for the Florida Education Association, and its views carry more currency in a year in which redistricting leaves lawmakers scrambling to run in new districts. The Senate is also in a state of meltdown, with an attempted leadership coup having raised the temperature in the chamber and caused senators to scurry for new alliances. Oddly, the clash may also be owed to the fact that lawmakers have written a budget that restores most of the deep funding cuts made to public schools last year, allowing educators to shift their focus. In the state’s largest newspaper today, a teacher union official and a PTA president gave us a sense for the drama. Nine days ago, the state Board of Education raised the bar for school grades, putting pressure on many of them to further improve or end up with lower or possibly failing grades. So a bill that now would allow parents to vote to overhaul or bring new management to low-performing schools feels to them like a conspiracy.
This may help to explain rhetorical excesses like this: “Florida politicians are chopping up our piece of the (American) dream.” And this: the bill is “really the corporate empowerment bill” and “an effort to dismantle public education.” But the apocalyptic tone is simply confounding. Continue Reading →