As Republican legislators gear up once again to expand school “choice” in the state of the Florida, the Miami Herald’s Kathleen McGrory has exposed the movement once again as far from being organic and grassroots oriented as the proponents of these odious proposals often claim.
The Herald had reported late last session that the group “Sunshine Parents” which was 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 had previously discussed at TFS. “Parent Revolution” 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 had no online presence nor an organizational structure of any sort that was evident last session.
Previously on this site have also dissected the funding mechanisms for the campaign to push school vouchers in Florida, particularly John Kirtley’s “All Children Matter,” which has once again been brought forth in McGrory’s article today. She writes:
The voucher program’s top supporter, Tampa venture capitalist John Kirtley, controls a political committee in Florida that spent nearly $2.4 million to influence races in 2010 and 2012. He plans to spend at least $1.5 million in 2014, he said.
While we discussed Kirtley’s influence at length, I regretted that last session did not list those who bankroll nor discuss in depth “Parent Revolution” a California based group that implies it is a grassroots oriented movement of concerned parents. It is in reality, much like “All Children Matter,” the primary organization backing Parent Trigger and is funded almost entirely by interests who either stand to profit from the implementation of this law in Florida or are non-profit foundations that are ideologically motivated to undermine the public school system such as the Walton Family Foundation (also a prominent backer of All Children Matter).
While “Parent Revolution” professes itself as grassroots organization, its funders are not public school parents and the support for Parent Trigger nor other school “choice” proposals has not been built organically. The thrust for 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 droves parents across the state want this legislation to passed is completely fraudulent. No groundswell of support for voucher legislation exists except where lobbyists and paid consultants have stimulated interest in the legislation.
As we are now into the 2014 Legislative Session, we will continue to highlight the failures of the legislature to hold the line on important issues for progressives. We have diverted this week to discuss the Ukraine crisis and we are proud President Obama announced to the nation this afternoon that he is taking the same hard line we have advocated regarding this matter. Thus with our work done on Ukraine, we are returning today to our bread and butter of promoting progressive policies in Florida. (We will continue to monitor Ukraine developments of course.)
Our schools continue to fail, but the solutions proposed by Republicans and many Democrats disincentive and ostracize public education. Florida has to do better. The failure of Republican legislators to attract a sufficient amount of private sector business and employment to the state is directly correlated to the shambles that is education in Florida.
We will be monitoring each and every school “choice” proposal that makes its way through the legislature closely this session.