More information about HB 7055

HB 7055: Just another wolf in sheep’s clothing

“Beware the wolf in sheep's clothing'….

This cautionary advice has been with us for many centuries and unfortunately reminds us that malicious intent is often hidden under guise of kindliness.

HB 7055 is taking the same path as last year’s 7069. Let’s stop it now.

Last year we were promised reduced testing and an assurance that national for-profit charter chains would flock to our state to “save” our students. We got no applicants for the “Schools of Hope” charter scheme while 115 million dollars were withheld for all public schools this year from our existing schools. We did not even get the paper and pencil testing as we were promised.

Now we have more promises of more schemes for outsiders to profit on the backs of our children and our state’s hardworking taxpayers.

Legislators are promoting this bill using carefully prepared talking points that highlight what they call “increased flexibility” and “parent empowering” because the top line argument makes the headline.

As usual, the devil is in the detail. 

  • “We listened to the professionals….” Sorry, but that is just not accurate. The truth is HB 7055 is this session’s version of HB 7069. The House has tacked together 198 pages of unrelated issues amending 58 separate statutes.
  • Nothing in the bill addresses the need for increasing school funding for salaries and maintaining school infrastructure. Measures to address massive teacher shortages or support teacher development are missing as well. This is just not the relief teachers, students or parents have asked for.
  • Instead there is a “Medal of Honor day”, travel reimbursement details for local school boards, creation and expansion of vouchers, security risk assessments, cell phone use, student testing, union busting, principal programs, charter schools, tort liability, web-based efficiency tools and reading curriculum. More than half of the issues were never vetted in any education committee.
  • The bill also directly targets Florida’s public school teachers with a ‘special’ Union decertification provision that singles out only unions representing “Instructional personnel” – those who work with students.
  • The bill includes a new bully voucher, diverting up to $200 million in taxpayer dollars to private and religious schools. This is much needed state revenue that could be used to address public school needs, and prevent bullying, violence and harassment from occurring in the first place.
  • You will be told that no one ever offered any suggestions that would make the ideas better. Since your FEA lobbyists as well as parents and teachers met individually with the sponsor and other legislators and testified publically, suggesting multiple changes, we know that is an untruth.
  • HB 7055 does nothing to free public schools from the restrictive policies imposed by the high stakes testing environment of Florida’s accountability system, something teachers and parents have repeatedly requested.
  • The bill significantly changes the way the lowest 300 performing schools are measured and the kind of the assistance they are offered, without substantive discussion or debate over the policy changes.
  • HB 7055 expands Principal Autonomy Pilot Program to a statewide program without seeing evidence of the effectiveness of the program. The statutory requirements for a report on the pilot are deleted without the legislature ever seeing the results.
  • It also establishes a new kind of school governance structure called “District Independent Autonomous School” that would be neither public nor private. Rather it would be governed by an unelected, unaccountable, and undefined group of individuals.
  • HB 7055 expands the definition of Title 1 to high schools that have above 50% poverty, further diluting the funding available to target district resources to the students and schools with the highest level of need.
  • It also provides preferential treatment to charter schools in capital outlay funds, property use and appropriation, auditing compliance, school grade consequences and building codes compliance which further widens the gap between neighborhood public schools and charters.

 

Here is a link to the bill so you can read 48 more reasons HB 7055 is a really bad bill.

https://static-s3.lobbytools.com/bills/2018/pdf/7055.pdf

 

 

PROTECT our public schools!

They have long been the core of our democracy.

Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes.

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