Posts

Does Florida want ‘Rubber Stamp’ School Boards?

Diverse views are needed on every board or committee, not one opinion to the exclusion of all others. Political discourse is healthy. One mindedness is dangerous and is called tyranny.

The Sarasota County School Board supports diversity, the exception being if one talks about diverse positions on school board matters. Recently this came to light when school board members went to Tallahassee to lobby the state legislature on matters of importance to students and parents. One of the issues of importance is vouchers for students provided by businesses.

Supporters of public charter schools, school voucher programs, equal funding for charter schools and home schooling are persona non grata to the Florida School Board Association, Florida Association of District School Superintendents, Florida’s teachers unions and Florida Democrats and some Republicans. Anyone who opposes the government public school monopoly is immediately classified as a “rival.” This is particularly true of school board members who support programs to give parents and students choices as to where they would like children to get an education.

Diversity and choice are one way streets to some elected officials and school bureaucrats. Going down the wrong road is considered blasphemy and creates discord. This discord must be stamped out at all cost.

Well there is a light of hope in the sunshine state from those who truly support diversity and choice in education. 

Zac Anderson and Shelby Webb from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported, “Sarasota County’s five School Board members used the school district’s spring break this week to lobby legislators and talk education policy in the state capital. But they weren’t all always working from the same playbook.” Question for Zac and Shelly: Since when are school board members required to work from any playbook? Aren’t school board members elected to represent the best interest’s of children and parents?

Anderson and Webb go on to report on “rival” school board organizations. The Florida School Board Association (FSBA) is presently suing the state of Florida to stop a voucher program to help students go to a school of their choice. The other organization is pro-choice and wants to stop the strangle hold of the FSBA on public education in general and school choice in particular.

Anderson and Webb wrote:

Another school board member from Escambia County, Jeff Bergosh, said he considers himself a “real threat to the status quo” and is intending to introduce a motion at his next board meeting asking the district not pay his portion of the $21,766 in dues owed to the Florida School Board Association.

“I’m tired of sending my money every year to an organization that’s working against school choice and suing the governor and Legislature,” Bergosh said.

Why would any school board member support using taxpayer money to fund an organization that does not have the best interests of students and parents in mind? 

Another issue raised by one school board member was “bias” in the current professional development opportunities offered to school board members. School board members, like students under Common Core, are being told what to think, not how to think, about public education.

sarasota school board logo with zuckerFor some school board members like Carolyn Zucker, president-elect of FSBA, it is all about the money, not the student. Zucker is worried about “…[Florida] House legislation that would allow certain businesses to solicit and collect contributions for the construction and maintenance of public education facilities. Zucker worries, “[I]t means the legislators will decrease capital funds going to districts and will instead rely on private contributions.”

Sheldon Richman in “Can the Free Market Provide Public Education?” writes:

The short answer, of course, is: yes, look around. Right now, private enterprise and nonprofit organizations provide all manner of education—from comprehensive schools with classes in the traditional academic subjects, to specialized schools that teach everything from the fine arts to the martial arts, from dancing to dieting, from scuba diving to scrutinizing one’s inner self.

[ … ]

The free market—and I include here both for-profit and nonprofit organizations—would provide even more education than it does now but for the “unfair competition” from government. Since government has a resource that private organizations lack—the taxpayers—it’s able to offer its services for “free.” They’re not really free, of course; in the government context, “free” means that everyone pays whether he wants the service or not. Clearly, as long as government can tax its citizens and then provide educational services to them at a marginal price of zero, much private education will never come into being. How ironic that government vigilantly looks for predatory pricing in the private sector when it is the major offender.

Richaman concludes, “Thus it is not only the case that the free market can provide education. We may conclude further that only the free market should provide education.”

Now that is divergent thinking.

America is based upon an educated public. The public education monopoly is another matter all together.