Today's news -- June 5, 2017




It doesn’t go far enough *

The Florida Education Association isn’t satisfied with Gov. Rick Scott’s and legislative leaders’ plan to pump another $100 per pupil into public education. The union also wants Scott to veto HB 7069, the Legislature’s big education package. “The gaping flaws in HB 7069 haven’t changed with this suggested increase in funding,” FEA President Joanne McCall said in a written statement. “It doesn’t even pay for the massive giveaway to charter schools included in the bill. The governor and the legislative leaders who cooked up these changes and called for a special session are not addressing the needs of the parents and students in this state,” she said. Scott announced with House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron on Friday that the Legislature would convene in special session between June 7 and June 9 to add $215 million in K-12 spending; establish an $85 million Florida Job Growth Fund to promote public infrastructure and individual job training; and boost Visit Florida spending to $76 million.

HB 7069 provides for $419 million in schools spending, including the House’s “Schools of Hope” initiative, steering money to charter schools that take pupils from consistently failing public schools. “Unless the governor vetoes HB 7069, there isn’t enough money to offset the incredible damage that will hit our public schools,” McCall said. “The 2.7 million students in our traditional public schools will pay the price so that operators of for-profit charters, that serve a small fraction of that number of students, can get a financial benefit.” She called the bill a “sneaky” attempt at privatization. “Parents and taxpayers want stronger traditional public schools, not a parallel school system that divvies up scarce tax dollars,” McCall said. “This bill will not help our students, our teachers, our school employees or our public schools. It is a wrecking ball aimed directly at our traditional public schools. It is not what Floridians want for their children and their schools.”


Despite extra dollars, bill remains a concern for many *

Advocates of traditional public education welcomed Gov. Rick Scott's demand on Friday that lawmakers redo the K-12 education budget for next year and boost it with $215 million in additional spending. But school superintendents, teachers union leaders and others cautioned that those added dollars won't be good enough if Scott intends to also sign House Republicans' controversial education bill (HB 7069) — which could cost traditional schools money while making it easier for privately managed charter schools to expand in Florida through financial incentives and additional taxpayer funding. "It may be a step forward, if we get the funding — but then a bigger step backward" if HB 7069 is signed into law, Hillsborough County schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins said. Lawmakers unveiled and passed the sweeping $419 million policy bill in the final days of session; many want to see it vetoed, with the primary exception being school choice advocates. Even as he unveiled a budget compromise Friday with House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron, Scott wouldn't commit to an opinion on the legislation. "We're still reviewing 7069, but I believe we're on a pathway to a very good special session and that we're on a pathway where everything we're doing is going to be good for all students," Scott told reporters in Miami. However, some senators told the Times/Herald they expect Scott to sign it, and House Republicans who helped craft the bill emphasized Scott's record as a proponent of school choice expansion. "I believe the governor will stay true to his support for school choice and innovation," said Hialeah Republican Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., the House Pre-K-12 budget chairman and one of the architects of HB 7069. "He's always been supportive of that, and I think he will keep supporting those concepts." School district superintendents statewide, though, are doubling down on their calls for Scott to veto the bill. They warn their annual budgets would still suffer if he approves HB 7069, even if lawmakers add the influx of cash to base K-12 spending. Most concerning to them about HB 7069: Districts would be forced to share with charter schools millions in local tax dollars earmarked for school construction and maintenance, as well as federal Title I funds. "We absolutely welcome the governor's veto" of the K-12 budget, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said. "We remain hopeful regarding a like action on [HB 7069] due to its numerous provisions and their impact on school systems across the state of Florida." Local and state teachers unions on Friday aimed their renewed criticism of HB 7069 to one of its key components: a new $140 million "Schools of Hope" plan — a top priority of Corcoran's, which represents his answer to perpetually failing public schools. The program would primarily subsidize specialized charter schools so they can set up in mostly low-income areas, and it would encourage them to directly compete with — and in some cases, take over and replace — struggling neighborhood schools. Joanne McCall, president of the Florida Education Association, said in a statement that "unless the governor vetoes HB 7069, there isn't enough money to offset the incredible damage that will hit our public schools. The gaping flaws in HB 7069 haven't changed with this suggested increase in funding," McCall added. "It doesn't even pay for the massive giveaway to charter schools included in the bill." House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa called "Schools of Hope" a "slush fund for private charter school operators" and criticized Scott, Corcoran and Negron for coordinating a special session she called "a farce." "To pretend this newest backroom deal will help public education in our state is laughable," she said in a statement.


Another backroom deal stokes distrust in Legislature

Another backroom deal, this time involving the governor who has blasted the Legislature for secrecy, is leaving a trail of frustration and distrust in the state capital as elected lawmakers are being called back for a special session this week to rubber stamp a budget they were excluded from negotiating. After stoking rumors that he might veto the Legislature’s budget and an accompanying controversial public school reform bill because they were negotiated behind closed doors, Gov. Rick Scott emerged this week with House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron in Miami with an announcement. He would sign the budget, veto $409 million in local projects, and order lawmakers back June 7-9 to add $215 million to the public education budget. The announcement caught most legislators off guard, even ranking Republicans who were left out of the deal-making. “Other than a seeing a press release, I haven’t talked to anyone about any of it,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, who chairs the Senate budget panel on tourism and economic development. “Is this how the process is supposed to work?” he asked. “There has to be a better way.” Senate Democrat Leader Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens recalled how Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala stood on the floor of the Senate and promised that the chamber would never again be forced to sign onto a deal negotiated in private by the Senate president without their input. “We were told this wasn’t going to happen to us again,” he said. “To me this is happening again.” Democrats, who were shut out from budget negotiations during the regular session, are returning to Tallahassee in a foul mood. “This special session is a farce being inflicted upon the people of Florida,” said House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa. “To pretend this newest backroom deal will help public education in our state is laughable.


A ruse by any other name still stinks *

What Scott and Negron have done is allowed Corcoran to hijack the future of public education in the state in return for their own agendas. That isn't negotiation; it borders on malfeasance. Reasonable people can argue about the pluses and minuses in HB 7069, which greatly benefits the expansion of charter schools. Nothing wrong with disagreeing about policies or philosophies. The injustice is that large parts of that bill would not have passed without Corcoran's manipulations. And that means one man has just determined the future of education for all of the state's children. In a few days, legislators will return to Tallahassee for a special session to approve a budget they had virtually no say in crafting. Meanwhile, they are not scheduled to talk about the medical marijuana constitutional amendment more than 70 percent of voters want implemented. So if you're keeping score at home: Scott got what he wanted. Negron got what he wanted. Corcoran got what he wanted. And you got played.


Budget deal trades cash for bad policy *

Yet all of this additional spending is not worth the damage that would be caused by the education legislation that Corcoran covets and Scott evidently agreed to spare. It allocates $140 million to Corcoran's "Schools of Hope" initiative, a power play that would give state loans for construction and state money to pay salaries and overhead for charter schools to take over for failing public schools. For the first time, school districts also would be forced to share with charter schools local property tax money for capital projects. School district superintendents would face new restrictions on shifting federal Title 1 money among high-poverty schools to the ones that need the most help. And that doesn't begin to describe the micromanaging in this legislative train wreck, from limiting testing windows to requiring tests on paper rather than computers to dictating 20 minutes of recess a day in elementary schools (but not in charter schools, of course). The upshot: Hillsborough County will have even less money to fix its broken school air conditioners. Pasco County will have less money to build new schools it needs to accommodate growth. Pinellas County will have a harder time finding money to fulfill its commitment to improve failing elementary schools in south St. Petersburg, making it even easier for Corcoran's charter school scheme to take root. True to form, Corcoran traded cash for fundamental policy change. Anyone who cares about the future of public education should not be so easily bought off.


Scott agrees to sign budget after reaching deal with Corcoran, Negron (Joanne McCall quoted) (Joanne McCall quoted) (Kathy Gundlach quoted)


Democrats accuses Scott of “backroom politics at its worst” over special session


Scott vetoes $409 million in local projects statewide


Scott kills study to help teachers afford state's cost of living


St. Johns education leaders concerned about less support for public schools (Joanne McCall and Michelle Dillon quoted)


Charter schools could target kids from seven area public schools (Vicki Rodriguez quoted)


Clay superintendent gets high marks so far (Renna Lee Paiva and Teresa Dixon quoted)


Community schools are strongly supported by research evidence


Sarasota schools embrace science-based reading curriculum (Pat Gardner and Barry Dubin quoted)


Feeding young minds: The importance of school lunches


Focus on finance in the high school years


How to teach kids about climate change where most parents are skeptics


Climate science meets a stubborn obstacle: students


DeVos: “Certainly, the climate changes”


SLAPP suit resolved in favor of charter school researcher and critic


Voucher program helps well-off Vermonters pay for prep school at public expense


Universities take big hits in Scott's budget vetoes


As costs for UF president’s house climbed, policies overlooked


Falconetti will be the next president of Polk State College


Stakeholders push for Robinson to be named permanent FAMU president


Independent Florida Alligator to scale back circulation, shift focus online


Scott signs 33 bills including vote-by-mail fix


Constitution commission needs a revision of its own


Hurricane season starts with Trump appointees missing at FEMA and NOAA


ACLU and others say DCF violating separation of church and state


Florida to create reform schools memorials and rebury bodies


BP dollars finally bound for Panhandle


Amazon could reel in big tax breaks for new Orlando-area warehouse


How schools, trains and concerts are building up Miami’s neighborhoods


Doral? Census says it’s the fastest growing city in Florida


American dream? Top 20 percent pulling away from the rest, study finds


Comey Senate testimony: America braces for a historic political moment


Trump appears unlikely to hinder Comey’s testimony about Russia inquiry


Special counsel investigation includes Manafort, may expand to attorney general


Mueller to probe ex-Trump aide Flynn's Turkey ties


The problem with Jared Kushner


Kushner's redemptive mission threatened by tangled Russian web


Bank at center of U.S. inquiry projects Russian “soft power”


Nunes-led House Intelligence Committee asked for “unmaskings” of Americans


Trump and Nunes are distracting from the “big story” that counts


Trump officials clamming up about Russia probe


Beware: Trump can still find a way to undermine the Russia investigation


Putin calls U.S. election-meddling charge a “load of nonsense”


Crowds rally at March for Truth in D.C. and dozens of cities


Hundreds of constituents grill Issa at California town hall


At home, GOP senators voice skepticism about passing a health-care bill


Insurance companies duck Obamacare repeal fight


Health Care Act endangers women


Obama unwittingly handed Trump a weapon to cripple the health law


The single-payer party? Democrats shift left on health care


California Senate passes single-payer health care


From Maine, a call for a more measured take on health care


It took Sessions just one month to turn Obama-era drug policy on its head


Trump criticized for using London attacks to promote his Muslim travel ban


Trump ramps up push for travel ban even as opposition hardens


The Supreme Court’s options in the travel ban case


Supreme Court sets deadline for travel ban filings


Mayor fears immigration arrests in L.A. could spark riots


Another immigrant dies while in ICE custody at a for-profit detention center


A Baltimore case shows how deportation crackdown can lead to lawlessness


Mr. Trump, don’t send 50,000 Haitians back to a life of hardship


Gorsuch rejects doubts over “rule of law today”


Democrats outraged by Trump ban on info requests


Democrats signal hardball in debt fight


Senate Republicans fear “train wreck” in September


Trump to focus on infrastructure, starting with privatizing air traffic control


Trump plans to shift infrastructure funding to cities, states and business


National Endowment for the Arts fuels rural economies. Trump wants to end it.


As nonprofits brace for cuts under Trump, they make a political pitch to donors


GOP running out of time for legislative achievements


Trump’s tangle with Europe leads the continent to find partners elsewhere


To be great, America must be good


Leaders lament U.S. withdrawal, but say it won’t stop climate efforts


Most Americans support government regulation to fight climate change


Bloomberg: States and businesses will still meet Paris targets


What states can do on climate change (even though we really need the Feds)


Right-wing attitudes on climate change are largely driven by hatred of liberals


Kerry dismisses Trump's promise to reach a better deal on Paris


Trump’s reason for leaving agreement left Obama’s science adviser stunned


Paris decision underscores the visceral expression of Trump’s worldview


Trump ran as an ally to business -- but snubbed CEOs by pulling out of accord


America’s CEOs fall out of love with Trump


The entire coal industry employs fewer people than Arby’s


Trump aides struggle under climate change questioning


Trump stomps planet Earth


Trump is finding it easier to tear down old policies than to build his own


Trump ignores the messy reality of global warming — and makes it all about him


America in retreat


Making ignorance great again


Five times Florida politicians acted like morons on climate change


How climate change saved Bannon’s job


How Priebus hangs on


Obama’s dilemma on troop surge in Afghanistan now vexes Trump


Trump national security team blindsided by NATOspeech


Undoing all the good work on Cuba


Arab states break ties with Qatar, complicating U.S. coalition-building


How “shadow” universe of charities joined with political warriors to fuel Trump’s rise


Trump is the manifestation of our long-disturbed national dialogue,amp.html


Is there a neo-Nazi storm brewing in Trump country?


Right-wing free speech rally draws massive counterprotests in Portland


Portland killings dredge up legacy of racist laws in Oregon


“Racism is structural: its purpose is to consolidate power”


Is White House “beyond the reach of basic ethics requirements”?


Justice Department defends Trump financial disclosure


Written proof that the president’s lobbyist ban is worthless


Before Trump attacked foreigners, he helped sell them condos


Trump son hawks dad’s campaign merchandise despite promise


Is China offering Ivanka Trump unseemly favors?


With Trump’s attack on the press, democracy approaches a critical moment


After London attack, Trump again the center of partisan media combat


How GOP leaders came to view climate change as fake science


It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class



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