The school “choice” movement continues to operate in secrecy and with a certain degree of shadiness. The Miami Herald reported late last night that the group “Sunshine Parents” that has been attributed for producing propaganda materials supporting the Parent “Trigger” legislation has in fact not produced anything of the sort. These materials have in reality been produced by “Parent Revolution” the well-funded California group we discussed earlier this week. “Parent Revolution” as we’ve previously discussed is not a grassroots movement of parents but in fact a political organization funded by those who seek to profit off this proposed legislation. “Sunshine Parents” per the Herald report have no online presence nor an organizational structure of any sort that has been evident this session.
As I wrote earlier this week:
While “Parent Revolution” professes itself as grassroots organization, its funders are not public school parents and the support for Parent Trigger has not been built organically. The thrust for parent trigger like so many pieces of voucher legislation has been through spending money in the political process and hiring high priced and well compensated lobbyists. Any implication that parents across the state want this legislation to pass is completely fraudulent. No groundswell of support for this legislation exists except where lobbyists and paid consultants have stimulated interest in the legislation.
This mirrors the effort by school voucher proponents who create shady groups of community leaders and alleged public school parents while in reality being well funded corporate interests. Between 2004 and 2012 school voucher proponents funded by outside interests such as the Walton Foundation and DeVos family spent upwards of $6 million on Florida campaign. The DeVos family who own the Orlando Magic were also prominent financial backers of the late Rev. D. James Kennedy a Fort Lauderdale pastor whose Sunday services were beamed via satellite to a national audience. Kennedy’s weekly sermons often contained messages denouncing the separation of church as a myth and state and included frequent gay-baiting. The family have been the single largest contributor to the various voucher groups, advocating school “choice” legislation in Florida, most notably the group they founded “All Children Matter.”
But to mask themselves the pro-voucher groups have often resorted to tactic the Herald has described regarding “Sunshine Parents.” Shady yet well funded groups of alleged public school parents from low income areas will produce videos or mailers advocating the corporate takeover of the public school system and attacking the work of the public school system. These groups have found greater success in Florida than in any other state thanks to a legislature that has become more slavish in its obedience to the wishes of right-wing think tanks and corporate funded organizations who play in political campaigns.
The danger of these groups cannot be understated. They have bought their way through the political process by hiring high priced consultants and lobbyists while using phony groups to play on emotion with a tinge of race-baiting in an effort to destroy this state’s great equalizer, our public school system.