Superintendent in Don Gaetz’ District Critical of Parent Trigger

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Senate President Don Gaetz with Rick Scott

March 25, 2013

Provided to Florida Public Employees

By: Bob Sikes – Scathing Purple Musings

I’ve always wondered whether Sen. Don Gaetz, the school board member and school superintendent had a different take on Parent Trigger than Don Gaetz, the politician. We will never know, but the school’s superintendent from one of the county’s he represents makes no bones about his opposition. Panama City News Herald reporter Matthew Beaton talked to Bay County Schools Superintendent Bill Husfeldt:

Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt has a simple response to the legislation: Stay out of our business.

“I wish that the legislators would leave decision-making about schools to the local districts,” he said. “I think this is another one of those things where the state is meddling in local districts’ authority.”

Husfelt said if parents don’t like or trust their school, they should approach their school board member. He said the district will meet with parents and get their insights on improving schools. He said there also are school advisory councils where parents are even “begged” to get involved.

The bill wouldn’t impact Husfelt’s district right now though.

“Really the trigger bill is about F schools, and we don’t have any F schools,” he said.

But the district has four D schools: Cedar Grove Elementary, Oakland Terrace Elementary, Oscar Patterson Elementary and Springfield Elementary. And these, of course, are a work in progress.

“We’re constantly trying to improve and get better, and that’s what we always will be doing,” Husfelt said.

Anyone familiar with Florida’s public schools knows that a lot of highly trained professional educators are moving mountains to help the  kids in those four schools. Husfeldt’s statement that school advisory councils are “begging” parents to get involved shows that reality is in direct conflict with republican’s “give parents a seat at the table” talking points.

When republican legislators aren’t blurting memes and mantras, they’re conveying faux puzzlement as did Marianna Sen. Marti Coley who told the News Herald, “I’m a little confused as to why there’s such an outcry.” A former educator like Gaetz, she benefits from a defector shield  resume to keep from being questioned.

The best explanation for defeated Parent Trigger came from Rep. Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville). Jones, who sits on a charter school board, said the following during a House hearing this week:

When asked whether HB 867 combined with Common Core standards would create investment opportunities for the charter school industry, Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville said she is opposed to the trigger out of fear that for-profit companies will invest in marketing campaigns to transform traditional public schools into money-making opportunities.

“If they can get the system moving in the direction they want to move in. Put everything in place so that it appears that all we have done is create an option, an opportunity to do something – (where they say) ‘We’re just going to come in and be white knights and put these things in place,’” Jones said.  “I don’t want to move in that direction.”

Gaetz and Coley want to ignore the Adelanto, California  example. In fact, it’s the only time Parent Trigger has been used successfully. Jones’ “fear that for-profit companies will invest in marketing campaigns to transform traditional public schools into money-making opportunities,” became reality in Adelanto. The for-profit charter school marketers got their for-profit charter school while an entire community was ripped apart.

To continue to turn a blind eye to the Adelanto example is a demonstration in irresponsibility and cowardice by republican legislators. Is it that they cannot say no to Jeb Bush and the purse strings he controls at the Florida Chamber of Commerce?

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