Saturday, April 21, 2018
Politics

Mysterious group right about Crist implementing Bush's A+ Plan

Gov. Rick Scott isn't the only one attacking presumptive gubernatorial rival Charlie Crist. An outside group called Progressive Choice Florida has taken a few shots as well — although there's some question as to which side the group is on.

In a flier that appeared in Florida mailboxes around March 30, the group attacks Crist's history as a GOP member, saying "Conservative Republican Charlie Crist is no friend of progressive Democrats."

It then lists several examples:

Charlie Crist's record proves he is …

• Pro-life

• NRA A+ rated

• 'Chain Gang Charlie'

• Implemented Jeb Bush's A+ Plan

• Signed petition banning gay marriage

Interesting to note is the mystery over exactly who funds Progressive Choice, the Florida chapter's parent organization. It claims on a bare bones website that the larger group is "a diverse coalition of fair-minded, forward-thinking individuals and organizations advocating for leadership that stands firm on progressive principles and genuinely reflects the interests of all progressives across the nation." The site also lists the group as "a 501(c)(4) social welfare advocacy organization."

There has been some speculation that Progressive Choice is a GOP front funded to draw Democratic voters away from Crist, particularly in the upcoming primary against Nan Rich. The group is not yet listed with the Federal Election Commission or the Florida Division of Elections, so contributions are untraceable. The mailer lists a Washington P.O. box and says the mailers were sent from Orlando.

We've dealt with some of those claims before, but the part about Bush's education plan caught our attention.

Bush floated the idea of overhauling Florida education standards during his 1998 campaign, crafting a plan with then-Education Commissioner Frank Brogan, who was his running mate.

The plan suggested expanding the use of the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test, which at the time was new and administered to fourth-, eighth- and 10th-graders. Student test performance (along with attendance and violence rates, and graduation rates at high schools) would be used to give schools a letter grade of A, B, C, D or F.

The proposal rewarded with monetary bonuses schools that earned an A, or improved their grade in a year. Failing schools had two years to improve or would be turned over to the state. The state could then change school staff and implement changes as it saw fit. Students at F schools could transfer to private schools with taxpayer-funded vouchers.

Critics were especially vocal about the vouchers, saying it would take much-needed funding away from public schools. The use of standardized test scores also was controversial.

Bush was elected and announced his A+ Plan for Education his first month in office. This version required annual FCAT testing for grades 3 through 10 each year, with a passing grade required for promotion. The grading and voucher components remained, with higher school grades resulting in more funding. The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the plan in 1999.

Enter Education Commissioner Crist.

Crist won a statewide election for the post after Tom Gallagher, who became commissioner in 1999, resigned to run for U.S. Senate in 2000. Crist took office in 2001 and served until 2003, when the elected Cabinet post changed to an appointed position under a new law.

One of Crist's duties was to follow the education agenda set by Bush and the Legislature before Crist took office. His campaign acknowledged that Crist put Bush's plan into action.

"Charlie was education commissioner from 2001-2003, so of course he would be responsible for implementing A+," campaign spokesman Steve Geller told PolitiFact Florida in an email. "A+ was passed by the Florida Legislature ... and any education commissioner would have had to implement these plans."

We rate the statement True.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com/Florida.

Comments
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18
Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

HOUSTON — Former first lady Barbara Bush is in "failing health" and won’t seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said Sunday. "Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump attacked James Comey in a fusillade of tweets Sunday morning, calling for the former FBI director to be imprisoned as Trump served up a number of his favorite theories and alleged misdeeds without evidence.Trump’s ...
Published: 04/15/18
President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at 40 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, slightly more than his 36 percent approval rating when last measured in January. It’s also the highest he’s enjoyed in Post-ABC polling since his fi...
Published: 04/15/18