The following guest column by Dr. Effrem was published at Sunshine State News discussing the many conservative reasons that the defeat of the proposed Amendment 8 was a correct decision.
As the Florida Supreme Court considered and ultimately removed Amendment 8, the education constitutional amendment, from the November ballot, there was a debate occurring among Florida conservatives over both the wording and the merits of the proposal.
Part of the amendment allowed entities other than duly elected school boards, to authorize education alternatives, charter schools being chief among them. Some well-meaning conservatives have been arguing that opposition to Amendment 8 was limited only to liberals. These conservatives also said that opposition to Amendment 8 was a "vote for the status quo" where half of students, especially poor students, can't read at grade level.
The truth is that there were many Floridians who opposed Amendment 8 specifically and are concerned about the rapid expansion of charter schools for conservative reasons. Here are the six most important:
Loss of Local Control
When has moving control of anything farther away from the local level increased parent or citizen control? Putting charter decisions in the hands of Tallahassee legislators or bureaucrats, many funded by the very charter corporations viewed with suspicion by Floridians, will not improve parental or local decision-making. The majority of charters are not high-performing like the Hillsdale classical charter in Collier County. They are corporate charters, the boards of which may not be in the same state or even country (think the controversial Turkish Gulen Harmony Schools), much less the same city or county as the schools they control. The same establishment groups and individuals that gave us Common Core and data mining were promoting this amendment. Neutering and or eliminating duly elected school boards has been on their to-do Read more
1) Charters still require the Common Core tests, which basically then require the academically inferior, psychologically manipulative standards and curriculum.
2) Charter boards are unelected, unaccountable to parents and the public and may not even be in the same state as the school(s) they oversee.
3) Charters do not work to improve failing schools. There is a higher percentage of failing charters than there are "F" public schools in Florida as admitted in this chart from Jeb Bush's foundation. The KIPP charter school in Jacksonville is a D school.
4) There is strong bipartisan opposition to this bill in Florida and national concern from all points on the political spectrum about school choice/charters/vouchers
5) Charters and vouchers are being pushed by Jeb Bush and Betsy DeVos and the corporate/big government education establishment of both parties that gave us Common Core.
6) The bill only gets rid of one test and only does paper/pencil for grades 3-6 when many legislators tried to listen to the concerns of parents and teachers to significantly reduce testing.
7) HB 7069 is terrible legislative process, with the final bill put together in secret at the very end of session only by Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negron with much not debated or amended on the floors of both chambers and only an up or down vote at the end. Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala basically urged the governor to veto it during floor debate.
8) The national private charter corporations do not even want to come to Florida to do the turnaround models required by Schools of Hope, because it is not profitable for them.
9) According to Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman, David Simmons, who was one of 3 Republicans to vote against the bill, it i s poorly written and will be complicated, if not impossible to properly implement. Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala basically urged Read more