Monday, May 21, 2018
Politics

Romano: Voucher expansion doubles down on separate but unequal schools

There are common hypocrites. There are spectacular hypocrites. And then there are Florida legislators.

A more shameless group of panderers, fabricators and deceivers the world may never know. Just when you think they might be developing a collective conscience, they do something so indefensible it is practically breathtaking.

Behold the case of private school vouchers.

Never mind that the state Supreme Court ruled vouchers unconstitutional eight years ago, and the Legislature later concocted a back-door method to fund them.

Forget about the implications of tax dollars going to private schools where teachers do not have to be certified and religious instruction can trump scientific fact.

Ignore all the other disturbing details and focus on one remarkable inconsistency:

Lawmakers are obsessively fanatical about accountability in public schools, and yet disturbingly unconcerned about accountability in private schools.

Ain't that a kick in the class?

Students, teachers and administrators are seemingly held captive by standardized tests in public schools, and yet tax revenues flow into private schools with few checks and balances and virtually no oversight.

Vouchers were sold as a way for poverty-level students to attend private schools with public funds, but legislation passed Friday will dramatically expand the program into middle-class territory.

"This is a sad day for public education,'' said Mindy Gould, the Florida PTA legislative chair. "This is just part of a much larger plan to privatize public education in Florida.''

Let me pause for this obligatory disclaimer:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with private schools. A lot of private schools provide an educational experience that is far and away better than many public schools.

So what's the problem?

Just fairness. And consistency. And the safeguarding of public money.

You cannot have over-the-top dependency on standardized tests in public schools, and under-the-rug disregard when it comes to private schools. Not if you plan on funneling more and more taxpayer funds toward those private schools.

Look at it this way:

Florida has micromanaged public education to the point of absurdity. The state's entire educational experience, including curriculum, revolves around the results of a handful of standardized tests that are far from infallible. These exams are so danged important, legislators even insist that profoundly disabled children are not always exempt.

This testing devotion is so disheartening to so many parents, they are seeking any type of alternative for their child's education.

And … surprise!

That plays right into the Jeb Bush-mindset of creating a separate-but-unequal educational choice system that the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional.

And do not buy the Legislature's cockamamie argument that it has introduced accountability to the voucher system. Students will not be taking the same Common Core-inspired test given in public schools, and there will be no state ramifications for students, teachers or school funding for low scores.

That's not accountability, it's a ruse.

Lawmakers keep talking about parental choice, and yet they have over-legislated public schools to the point that there is no room for choice, variance or innovation in classrooms. There is one overzealous, state-mandated way to learn in public schools, and it is being pushed by the same people crying crocodile tears about parental choice.

The bottom line is public schools in Florida will suffer.

This continued obsession with state-mandated testing will lead to more students fleeing, and that will lead to more tax dollars flowing into private pockets.

If that seems disturbing, you might want to tell your legislator:

Either stop micromanaging public schools, or hold private schools to the same standards.

Comments
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18
Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

In Hillsborough County — where one of the world’s largest Confederate flags still flies near a busy interstate — you may not be surprised to learn there’s an Uncle Tom Road.The name is a flash point and a slur, shorthand for a black person who will d...
Published: 05/16/18
Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell drops out of Pinellas Commission race

Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell drops out of Pinellas Commission race

With six months to go before the Nov. 6 election, Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell on Monday dropped her bid against Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard for the at-large District 2 seat.Caudell said she decided she’d better be better suited f...
Published: 05/14/18
Romano: Hey Gov. Scott, could you hire me, too?

Romano: Hey Gov. Scott, could you hire me, too?

To: The Honorable Gov. Rick ScottDear Governor,It has come to my attention that your administration has recently made some, dare I say, innovative hires for important government positions in the months before you leave office.At the risk of sounding ...
Published: 05/14/18