Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rep. Erik Fresen & Company: Three strikes, you're out.

Florida continues to dump a grossly disproportionate amount of capital funding into charters; 50% last year, and possibly an even greater amount this year.  This despite the fact that public schools greatly outnumber charters--about 6:1.  So if there were any ethics/honesty/logic in the funding, you'd think charters would get about 14%, maybe a bit more to try to increase their numbers.

I'd actually be fine with charters except for a few things:

1.  Here in Florida, according to the last full (2013; the 2015 focused on just urban areas) CREDO study, Florida's charters do WORSE than our public schools:

...Florida charter-school students lose the equivalent of seven days of reading instructional time, compared to students in public schools.

They tie for math.  They're delivering an inferior product, so they market it as "choice*."  Strike one.

2.  Fresen in particular claims he's fighting to protect our tax dollars.  This is hard to swallow given that he is ignoring the massive waste and fraud of charters, nationwide.  Florida is no exception.  I'd rather pay a little over budget than flat-out throw the money away.  An inferior product that's wasting money?  Strike two.  Also, can you say #RINO ?

3.  One of the lead proponents of this push for charters, Rep Erik Fresen, (R-Disturbing) is also the education budget committee Chairman.  This is pretty amazing because Fresen's sister is the wife of the CEO of Academica, a charter firm. Fresen himself worked for them for a while as a lobbyist and now works for Civica, an architecture firm that has, among other things, built some schools for Academica.  As for an explanation for how this is possible, I have only one:  Because Florida.  Strike three.

Charters were supposed to be "innovation centers" for education but instead seem to mainly be innovating ways to launder tax dollars into private hands.  From my perspective the conclusion was reached first--we need charters.  It was probably mostly an ideological decision--reality be damned.  Now Fresen et al are looking to justify their decision after the fact (ex post facto if you wanna sound erudite), the reason of the week being over-budget construction projects.  Besides, who cares if the kids' education suffers when you can pass along some of those sweet, sweet tax dollars to your friends and family?

*  Speaking of choice, did you hear that participating in the country's fifth-largest voucher program  generates far worse results than going to a public school?