City-based School Districts would lead to massive inequality

By Willow Brugh (education innovation) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Willow Brugh (education innovation) 

I read with some curiosity on Saturday a Tampa Bay Times article about a proposal to split school districts. I will admit it caught me completely off-guard because I have not followed anything related to the Florida Legislature this session, as January is always a very busy time for me professionally and unlike in March, I don’t have a whole lot of free time to track what is going on. So this legislation completely caught me by surprise.

It’s not a new idea. In fact it has been part of the suburban playbook for two decades now, and like the previous efforts to make this change. Splitting school districts creates inequities in funding and application without question. But for years some Democrats including the current DNC Chairwoman advocated this sort of legislation because it would favor the suburban communities that they represent and the parents in those areas who might object to much of their tax money going to inner city kids.

My views on this issue which have been long established were articulated by Miami-Dade Superintendent  Alberto Carvalho in speaking to the Tampa Bay Times.

“In the countywide structure, you have a better way of mitigating inequitable resource distribution, with property values varying from city to city in the same county.”

“The county acts as an economic and educational equalizer of opportunities.”

This is absolutely correct. The legislation from my vantage point is very dangerous and we will be keeping a close eye on it here at TFS the rest of session. It gives me good reason to actually pay attention to the legislature. If you take your eye of Florida’s lawmakers for any period of time they bring back half-baked schemes like this that could work to create a defacto “separate AND unequal” doctrine in education pop up.  The state and its children are never safe when the legislature is in session.

One comment

  1. Patti Lynn · · Reply

    This is a CRITICAL piece of legislation. Hopefully, you will continue to monitor its progress. Using Broward County as an example will point out the irreparable harm that will be done to students should this legislation be enacted.

    The cities of Weston and Parkland should be compared to other cities in Broward. The median income is at least twice the average income in Broward, (not including Weston & Parkland in the averages). Parents, and local government, in those cities are the epitome of positive involvement when discussing education. The schools in both cities are relatively new, IT is excellent, and, even if the schools didn’t have the latest in technology, most of the students do.

    Both cities are “donor cities,” in the school system, much as Broward is a donor county when discussing taxes statewide. How could Margate, Tamarac, North Lauderdale, or even Fort Lauderdale, maintain the schools within their boundaries without a significant tax rate increase? Even given the increase, would they be able to keep qualified teachers, update equipment, and modernize the older schools?

    It seems drastically unfair to tax parents in Weston, Parkland, etc., to help the schools in less affluent cities, but, that is how our taxes work. Everyone pays school taxes, whether or not they have children. This legislation reeks of elitism, and it is a sad situation for our inner city schools.
    I hope that TFS will do their best to expose this legislation for what it is, a slap at minority communities throughout the state.

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