Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

John Romano: State's stance on education too complex for my public school brain

Getty Images

Please forgive me, but I am a dim-witted product of Florida's inferior public schools. Big numbers confuse me and grandiose ideas are beyond my grasp.

For instance, I have a difficult time following the game plan of our super-smart state leaders when it comes to public education. Try as I might, their logic escapes me.

They insist accountability is the key to all that is magical in education, then steer students and tax money to private schools that have no formal accountability.

They insist charter and public schools be treated equally, then hand charters 97 percent of the state's capital outlay funds even though charters make up less than 15 percent of the schools.

They insist they are watching out for your tax dollars, and yet flush millions down the toilet as charter schools run by for-profit corporations go belly-up every year.

Their thinking is so complex, even educators seem confused.

"They're causing damage to our public schools,'' said state Rep. Mark Danish, D-Tampa, who has spent most of the past 30 years teaching in Hillsborough County. "And it's a pattern that's been going on for a number of years.''

Danish joined U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, and local/state PTA leaders for a news conference Monday to bemoan the latest budget proposals for school funding.

If you weren't aware, the state has used Public Education Capital Outlay funds to build and repair public schools for 40 years.

That is, until Gov. Rick Scott showed up.

During Scott's first three years in office, charter schools have received about $200 million in PECO funds. Traditional public schools have gotten around $6 million.

That means public schools with leaky roofs are out of luck. That means broken air conditioners are held together with duct tape and a prayer. That means a lot of your tax dollars are being spent on school buildings that are not owned by the state.

"We do see a draining of resources of traditional public schools in what seems to be a move to privatize education,'' said Linda Kearschner of the Florida PTA legislation commission. "We can't keep robbing our children in public schools in the quest to provide other options.''

State Republican leaders explain that charter schools are in need of the PECO funds because they're growing at a more rapid rate than traditional public schools. That makes sense to me.

But then you ask why the disparity is so wide, and the answers grow enigmatic. You ask where schools are going to come up with the money to repair crumbling buildings, and they suggest counties foot the bill by raising taxes, which seems at odds with the usual Republican way of thinking.

On the bright side, state leaders have come up with PECO funds for public schools in their latest budgets. The Senate suggests giving charters $50 million and public schools $40 million. Gov. Scott is proposing even greater spending. The House, in its infinite wisdom, says charters should get $100 million and public schools $50 million.

Considering public schools outnumber charters nearly 10 to 1, I'm tempted to question such lopsided numbers but I realize I'm no match for the brainiacs in Tallahassee.

Heck, if I was smarter, I might even wonder if public schools are being thrown a few crumbs simply because the governor has an election later this year.

John Romano: State's stance on education too complex for my public school brain 04/14/14 [Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2014 10:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Justin Timberlake in Super Bowl halftime show for first time since 'wardrobe malfunction'

    Celebrities

    Justin Timberlake has finally been invited back to the Super Bowl halftime show, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy.

    Singer Janet Jackson covers her breast as Justin Timberlake holds part of her costume after her outfit came undone during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. The NFL announced Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson cause a national controversy. [Associated Press]
  2. Here's what happened when 30 high school sophomores gave up their phones for a day

    K12

    LUTZ — They were everywhere at Steinbrenner High School. Teens with panic-stricken faces, furiously slapping one thigh, then the other.

    Grace Hayes, 15, left, and Kai'Rey Lewis, 15, talk and text friends after having a discussion about smartphone technology in Tiffany Southwell's English Literature class at Steinbrenner High last week. Southwell asked theme to give up their phones for a day and write about it. For Lewis, the ride home that day "was the longest bus ride in my life." [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Cuban media treats visit by Tampa City Council as historic event

    Politics

    TAMPA — Delegations of one kind or another have been traveling from Tampa to Cuba for years, even before President Barack Obama took steps to normalize relations between the two countries in December 2014.

    A Tampa delegation to Cuba this week was featured prominently in reports by the state-run media in Cuba, including Granma. From left are Tampa City Council vice chair Harry Cohen, St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice, Tampa philanthropist David Straz and Tampa City Council Chair Yolie Capin.
  4. As the curtain rises on the Straz Center's biggest shows, the spotlight is on parking

    Transportation

    TAMPA — The Broadway Series, the most lucrative shows of the year for the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, start this week, and this year the center wants all the drama to take place on stage, not during the drive to the theater.

    With downtown Tampa getting busier at night and on weekends, city officials and administrators from the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts have been working on ways to unsnarl traffic and help visitors find parking when there are lots of events at the same time. CHRIS ZUPPA   |   Times (2009)

  5. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
Casimar Naiboa pleads for help to capture the killer of his son, Anthony Naiboa. Naiboa, 20, was shot and killed near 15th Street N. and E. Frierson Avenue after getting off the wrong bus in Seminole Heights. A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.