The head of the Florida Education Association’s legislative program was on hand Tuesday (3/26/13) in Tallahassee for a news conference conducted by groups supporting the latest incarnation of the parent trigger legislation before the 2013 Florida Legislature.
FEA Public Policy Director Jeff Wright talking with reporters after the press conference.
Patricia Levesque, the executive director of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future and Patrick DeTemple of Parent Revolution out of California called the news conference to “debunk the myths” about the legislation. Chief among their concerns is that this bill was a vehicle for for-profit charter companies to take over struggling Florida schools. Levesque and DeTemple, who were joined via telephone by Nikki Lowery of Michelle Rhee’s group, StudentsFirst, said that it was not true that the charter management companies were seeking to take over public schools via the parent trigger legislation (HB 867 and SB 862).
Jeff Wright, director of Public Policy Advocacy at FEA, remained unconvinced, noting that big charter companies have paid high-powered, and expensive, lobbyists to push for the bill this session, just as they had last legislative session. He noted that school boards in the state, Florida parent groups and civil-rights organizations were strongly opposed to the parent trigger proposal.
“There’s no clamor from Florida parents for this legislation,” Wright said. “This legislation was conceived by the education “reform” movement that is seeking to make a profit off our public school students.”
Wright noted that this bill does little more than establish a petition system with the goal of igniting controversy and confrontation at our neighborhood public schools, instead of collaboration. In Florida, teachers and parent groups already have the right to convert a traditional public school to a charter school with students – not profits – at the center of reform.
After the news conference, all the reporters gathered around to listen to Jeff Wright deliver a spirited debunking of what Levesque and trigger supporters stated at the news conference.