Jeb Bush’s desire to bust unions, not grassroots support pushing “school choice” on Republican lawmakers
April 28, 2013 6 Comments
As the”parent trigger” debate has reminded us, the school “choice” movement is a well-funded, politically motivated campaign which falsifies organizational support and has failed to captivate the grassroots despite the spending of tens of millions of dollars on propaganda here in the state of Florida. After more than a decade and a half of endless conservative clamoring for vouchers and other initiatives that undermine public schools, public opinion about school “choice” remains where it was in 1998, with the majority of Floridians consistently indicating a distaste for vouchers both in public opinion polls and at the ballot box when school “choice” related initiatives are voted on.
Despite this, the Republican Party of Florida has gone from having several moderate critics of vouchers and school “choice” (last session, eight Republicans in the Senate broke ranks and opposed parent trigger. Of those eight senators, only three remain in the chamber ) to supporting an unpopular and unwise policy almost in lockstep. The reason: Republican “savior” Jeb Bush and his control over the education agenda for Florida Republicans, which was based largely on a desire to destroy teacher’s unions throughout the state.
Jeb Bush left the Governor’s office over six years ago, yet his influence continues to dominate the legislative agenda of the state GOP. Last year’s razor thin defeat of the “parent trigger” bill gave progressives a rare legislative victory but that was just the latest salvo in a nearly two decade battle to save Florida’s schools from Jeb Bush’s political agenda. This week as Bush’s allies apply the full court press to pass some version of “parent trigger,” it is critical that Floridians understand that little support for this legislation has been generated organically but instead has been stimulated by paid consultants, political operatives and stretching the truth. It is also important to realize that the political gain by breaking the teacher’s union is the primary motivation for conservative politicians to push school choice initiatives. While some may profit monetarily from voucher and charter schools that is a side benefit to the chief motivation behind this legislation.