(Editor’s note: CHO would like to welcome Diane Kepus to our team of contributing writers. Diane focuses on public education. The following is her first article for Capitol Hill Outsider.)
By Diane Kepus:
What is it about the Bush’s wanting to control education?
Here is something I would like every parent, voter and legislator in this country to remember: Public education, when it was first implemented, being free to our students, was a wonderful gift to have been given to our children.
But then the Education Monsters got their heads together and decided it would be a wonderful idea to use the education system to Control our children on the pathway to destroy America and take over the World Government.
It made no difference who they hurt in the process or what lies they had to tell to pull off their plan, they were, by God, one way or another going to achieve their goal.
And they discovered Jeb Bush! A no nothing individual who had for a grandfather a Nazi collaborator; a father who joined together with crooks as the head of the CIA to import drugs into our country through Arkansas with the blessings of his friend the then governor Bill Clinton and a father and brother who allowed themselves to be entangled in the Nebraska Sex Scandal just as a beginning.
Jebbie himself, with the financial backing of his father and several savory individuals he had made as friends, managed to charm the people of Florida into electing him as the Governor of the State – not once but twice. For some reason, I guess the people of Florida just thought they deserved more of the Bush corruption. Timeline in the Life of Jeb Bush – Presidential or Dynasty Material?
Somehow, I think the two choices should have included a third – jail!
I guess because he saw no other legal means of making an honest living, he decided to befriend every legislator he met, dip his slippery fingers into our children’s education (something as with many others he knew nothing about), start two EDUCATION foundations and check in with all the bad guys who had decided to ruin our country using our children as pawns or as they like to call them “human capital”.
Am I angry? You can bet your bottom dollar I am! Why couldn’t Jebbie stay under his rock and just wait for another election where it forces him out in the open?
Because this article is mostly about Florida, please do not be turned off. History has shown that how Florida and Texas go in regard to education, so goes the rest of the nation eventually. Almost all of you have Charter schools, don’t you?
During the 2012/13 legislative sessions in Florida, I worked non-stop as did many others to stop the passage of the famous “Parent Trigger” bill. Presented to Floridians as an “amendment” and being used to “convince them that most of Florida’s schools were chronically failing and by voting for the parent trigger they would be giving “themselves” what they were told were the remedies to restructure the schools to include replacing teachers and administration and to have the ability to convert their school to a charter or choice school.
To being with, the propaganda put out about the public schools were lies especially in making it sound as if most schools were failing. Parent opposition was heavy and even though Jebbie carried behind him “friends” he had conjured up by allowing them to create public-private partnerships and promising all kinds of legislation and favors, his side lost.
In the end, it became well known that the “parent trigger” bill was nothing more than another “make me look important” move for Jeb Bush.
I remember during one of the State House sessions during that period, they were getting ready to take a vote and one of the Representatives stood on the floor and said, “I just got off the phone with Jeb and he wants you to know he fully supports this education bill”. You see, when Jeb Bush is around, most of our legislators can’t even find their way to the boy’s room without Jeb to lead them. And people question as to the extreme failure of our legislature and why we are 47th in the country in education.
Now once again, Florida is faced with another damaging piece of legislation and as per usual no one is listening to parents or teachers. The bill, HB5105, is being referred to as the “School of Hope” Legislation. With this piece of paper trash, totally endorsed by the Jeb Bush, earning a grade of “D” or “F” for three years or more would be required to undergo a “turnaround option”: close the school and send students elsewhere, hire an outside management company or convert to a charter school, to be known as a “School of Hope.” The bill eliminates the previously most used “turnaround” option, which was district managed.
Given the current temperature of Charter schools now being led by a non-education Education Secretary, nothing could sound more ludicrous than the idea of taking a “D” or “F” school and rushing all the students off to somewhere else given the number of failed Charter schools which have already been developed and died in this state.
Not to mention the amount of fraud and corruption surrounding the education of our children in various Charter School Management Charter schools. The most recent report from the Office of the Federal Department of Education Inspector General covers the years 1999-2016 and is a 20-page report and is very eye-opening.
This report only covers the loss of Federal $$, what about adding the State and Local $$. Our state officials never tell us this information, they just continue to try and blindside us and continue down the avenues of fraud and corruption. Is anyone paying this money back, are people going to jail for these offenses? No one in Tallahassee will tell anyone anything if you can get them to answer a phone.
Why in the world are we even thinking about passing another piece of crippling legislation that will govern our children’s futures?
April 1999 – Jeb Bush first opened his mouth about how vouchers would help parents rescue their children. What he didn’t tell you about was the “good ole boy” system that was about to be put in place with corporations, public-private partnerships and Charter School Management bosses running your children’s education.
July 2001 – Bush and the legislature abolished the Board of Regents and divided their duties between the newly created FL Board of Educ. and the Board of Trustees – both appointed. What this did was leave parents out of the equation making the State Board of Educ. appointed allowing Jebbie to appoint two of his family’s long time campaign advisors to the board.
*Florida is in a bad position with both the State School Board and the State Commissioner being appointed and owing their allegiance to only the governor.
January 2006 – After years of legal battles, the Florida Supreme Court finally struck down the voucher legislation in a 5-2 vote stating the vouchers violated a provision in the state constitution requiring a uniform system of free public school which was FAIR for all.
January 2007 – Bush, very upset over the Supreme Court’s ruling opted for plan B. After leaving office, he & his top advisers crafted a back-door maneuver to revise the state constitution and advance vouchers. They decided to stack the state’s 25-member Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (TBRC) which meets every 20 years & has the power, by a two-thirds vote, to place initiatives directly on the ballot, bypassing the legislature and other governmental checks and balances.
Commission members were appointed by then governor Charlie Crist (Bush arranged with Crist to appoint Greg Tuberville, a former Bush policy director, the Senate president Ken Pruitt and the House speaker Marco Rubio who helped the scheme along by appointing Bush education adviser Patricia Levesque and other voucher fans). In all, “nine Bush-era acolytes with financial ties to voucher groups who stood to gain financially” were appointed to the Commission!
2008 – Prior to the 2008 election, The FL Supreme Court once again stepped in and they ruled that the TBRC had exceeded its narrow authority of dealing with issues related to taxation or the state budgetary process in proposing the two initiatives and removed them from the ballot.
Spring, 2010 – Florida Legislature considered two resolutions (amendments) which, if passed, would have placed a ballot initiative like the TRBC’s Amendment 7 on the ballot. The legislation failed to advance beyond the Rules Committee in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
Spring, 2011, the Florida Legislature approved a resolution to place Amendment 7 on the November 2012 ballot. Amendment 7, like the church-state related constitutional provisions considered by the TBRC and the Florida legislature, would strip the Florida Constitution of its long- standing church-state separation provision. The Amendment was designed to eliminate religious freedom protections currently in place in Florida and open the back door to taxpayer funded vouchers for private and religious schools. The Amendment would eviscerate protections in place governing partnerships between the state and private or religiously affiliated organizations, (possibly even permitting taxpayer money to flow directly to houses of worship). The Amendment was the first step towards permitting private school vouchers.
July 2011 – Florida parents and clergy, as well as representatives of school administrators, teachers, and school boards, filed a lawsuit in Leon Circuit Court seeking to remove Amendment 7 from the November 2012 general election ballot. Judge Terry P. Lewis of the Second Judicial Circuit of Leon County ruled that the language that was slated to appear on the actual ballot to explain Amendment 7 was misleading and ordered Attorney General Pam Bondi to make the changes and hence, Amendment 7 came back as Amendment 8 in 2012. http://www.au.org/content/legal-challenge
Vouchers had already been ruled as unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court stating they violated a provision of the state constitution requiring a uniform system of free public schools. However, Amendment 8 was focusing on vouchers to be used by PRIVATE and RELIGIOUS AFFILIATED ORGANIZATIONS! LINK
November 2013 – Voters voted down Amendment 8.
April 2014 – the voucher hypocrisy of Jeb Bush lap dog Florida legislators gave us vouchers, side-stepping the FL Supreme Court’s ruling and coming up with another idea to include the multiple corporations, public-private partnership and Charter School Management companies with them funding the vouchers to be used for private and religious schools.
And here we are today:
- We have already legislated privatization of failing schools
- Now they want to remove the parents from the “parent trigger”
- We are now back to using our children in the middle of a political agenda for the benefit of the corporate world
- We are running our children in and out of various schools like a merry-go-round with no REPRESENTATIVE – government having one word to say about it – school boards or you
- It is time for parents to begin screaming bloody murder for Jeb Bush and all the corporate beagles to get out of the education lives of our children
Did I forget to tell you that it is one of the largest Charter School Management companies in Florida have the contract for funneling your tax dollars for the vouchers – distributing a % for the private school (mostly religious schools), a % for the state and a % for the management company.
Since this voucher program currently is focused once again on low-income students and the student only gets a % of the private school’s tuition, tell me how all these low-income students are coming up with a couple thousands of dollars to make up the difference.
HOT OFF THE PRESS: The FLORIDA SHELL GAME HAS FAILED; failed charter school to be immediately converted to a private school as of last month. According to Florida law, the also failing charter school management company can just convert to a PRIVATE school and start taking VOUCHER money from the STATE. They will have far less oversight and zero accountability and continue where they left off.
That’s what took place last month in Broward County, Florida. When the district went to court and secured a ruling to shut down Pathways Academy Charter School due to issues such as program deficiencies, inflated student enrollment, forgery, frivolous spending, unpaid taxes and questionable personnel practices.
Thanks to Florida’s school reform “Choice” scheme, Pathways Academy can remain open, take vouchers funded by diverted tax cash and be free of all accountability, continue the fraud, not paying their taxes and all their other illegal actions. It’s business as usual!
I think it is time this state had a massive audit of the state’s books. With all the influx of corporation dollars paying for education, why aren’t the public schools getting more per student funds and teacher raises. What is Scott doing with the money – funneling it through Enterprise Florida?
It’s REALLY DIFFICULT to see how any of this helps our kids.
© Copyright by Diane Kepus, 2017. All rights reserved.