Today's news -- October 2, 2017




Stage is set for court battle over funding of charters *

The legal war has officially begun over a highly controversial, charter school-friendly education law Republican state lawmakers pushed through last spring. Palm Beach County School Board members filed a lawsuit this week challenging the constitutionality of one part of House Bill 7069. Another, potentially more far-reaching lawsuit with the backing of at least 14 other school districts — including Pinellas County — is still expected in the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, charter school advocates are rallying their forces, too — vowing to fight in defense of HB 7069 in the courtroom and also on the political battlefield. Among the weapons they're preparing: A coordinated public relations campaign highlighting school districts' spending, and fielding — and funding — challengers to school board members statewide who face re-election in 2018 and who have been critical of HB 7069. "We're developing a plan and we're going to be very aggressive," said Ralph Arza, a former Miami-Dade Republican lawmaker who is now the government affairs director for the Florida Charter School Alliance. "We're going to aggressively defend a child's right to have a desk and to be in a school. … This is going to be a huge dividing point going forward." Several school districts and traditional public school supporters oppose HB 7069 because of how, they argue, the law strips authority from locally elected school boards to the benefit of charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately managed and outside the districts' control. There's been talk for several months of the districts suing, but Palm Beach County's filing Thursday in Leon County Circuit Court marked the first official court action by any district. The complaint targets state Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, the state Board of Education and the Florida Department of Education — which must implement the law that took effect July 1. A department spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the DOE's policy not to comment on litigation. The $419-million, 274-page law includes dozens of consequential reforms to K-12 public education policy, but the most polarizing changes are the ones that benefit charter schools. Palm Beach County Schools' lawsuit hones in on only one of those provisions — a section of HB 7069 that requires school districts to share a cut of their local tax dollars, which are earmarked for public school construction and maintenance, with charter schools. Attorneys for the county school board argue this new mandate violates aspects of the Florida Constitution that say school boards "shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools … and determine the rate of school district taxes" and that school districts — like counties and municipalities — have the right to levy taxes. Jon Mills, a Miami attorney hired by the Palm Beach County School District, wrote in the lawsuit that these provisions in HB 7069 "have resulted and will continue to result in an unlawful infringement on the Board's constitutionally granted authority." Under the law, "districts are bound by FDOE's final determination of the capital outlay allocation for each charter school and school boards are precluded from exercising any control or discretion to determine the most appropriate uses of these funds," Mills wrote. He also argued that Palm Beach County Schools might have to share as much as $300 million over the next 10 years — money that was planned to help traditional public schools, which are often older and have more maintenance needs.  "The board has been and will continue to be forced to eliminate and delay projects," Mills wrote. The school district wants a Leon County judge to declare that aspect of HB 7069 unconstitutional and to stop the state DOE from implementing it. (The law requires school districts to start paying out the allotted money to their local charters in February.) In diverging from the other districts' unified effort, Palm Beach County Schools will have to shoulder the cost of its lawsuit entirely on its own, rather than share the financial burden. But board members determined it was worth that because of the enhanced control they'll have over the lawsuit and because of the district's specific circumstances of having had voters approve a penny sales tax just last year, The Palm Beach Post reported.


Martin schools discuss state education lawsuit with local GOP watching closely


Bay schools, teachers union debate filming policy (Alexis Underwood quoted)


Most Bay teachers “highly effective” (Alexis Underwood quoted)


Alachua group pushing against “mega charter school” (ACEA mentioned)


Keys schools still don’t know how they’ll make up days lost to Hurricane Irma


Incoming Puerto Rican students eligible for free school meals


Traditional schools hold ground amid growing choices


ACT, SAT scores for state's class of 2017


Mass shooting in Las Vegas: How to talk to students


Las Vegas shooting near Mandalay Bay Casino kills more than 50


Public School Inc.: When public education turns into big business


Another opponent of public schools gets U.S. Education Department post


Here’s a great way to get kids to learn


Faced with ejection, some protested anyway when DeVos spoke at Harvard


Georgia to search for alternative to standardized state tests


At USF St. Petersburg, the ouster of another leader shows who's boss


Veterans agency seeks to scrap ethics law on for-profit colleges


How DeVos is quietly erasing Obama's higher-education legacy


Democrats slamming Scott after nursing home death toll reaches 12


Nelson wants Senate probe into nursing home deaths


Citing Florida deaths, Nelson bemoans slow response on generator safety


Gwen Graham wants more information about Scott’s voice mails


The Keys are back in business but far from back to normal


In the Keys, workers already struggled to find affordable housing. Then Irma hit.


The Keys may have been hit hard, but a new tourism campaign is about to start


Mobile home residents without insurance in flood zones fall through the cracks


State, counties should examine issues with hurricane shelters


Hurricane illustrates gap in aging services in Florida


After hurricane: State is vulnerable to October storms


Solar power could help Florida recover faster from future hurricanes


From his golf resort, Trump continues to attack mayor of San Juan


Trump picks risky Puerto Rico fight


Trump defies critics of his Puerto Rico response by conducting business as usual


Trump’s upbeat Puerto Rico rhetoric clashes with reality on the ground


Lost weekend: How Trump’s time at his golf club hurt the response to Maria


Nature caused Puerto Rico’s latest crisis. But politics are making it worse.


San Juan mayor continues calls for relief after attacks from Trump


Who is Carmen Yulín Cruz, the Puerto Rican mayor feuding with Trump?


Puerto Rican congressman slams Trump over hurricane response


Puerto Rico could become a public health catastrophe


Puerto Rico is getting a surge of aid, governor says


One day in the life of battered Puerto Rico


Trapped in the mountains, Puerto Ricans don’t see help, or a way out


For ravaged Vieques, solitude, once an allure, is now a curse


Don’t let Puerto Rico fall into an economic abyss


Help our fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico


Wave of Puerto Rican evacuees may shift Florida landscape


Nelson: Puerto Rico response must ramp up now or drastic measures coming


Political "bickering" hinders Puerto Rico recovery, Rubio warns


Scott says state prepared to help Puerto Rico in any way


Democrats ask Scott for relief centers to aid in expected Puerto Rican migration


Joining relief effort, Gwen Graham blasts Trump’s Puerto Rico response


Costs of climate change: Early estimate for hurricanes, fires reaches $300 billion


Federal judge blocks state abortion law


Protesting racial injustice, hundreds join Florida March for Black Women


Once called too risky, state online voter registration finally arrives


Florida should woo Amazon, but forget dangling “corporate welfare”


Florida bears becoming more active as winter nears


State hospitals fight transparency rule


State lawmakers making opioid abuse session priority


State's new utility regulator: Uber driver, donkey farmer, legislator


U.S. Senate passes Nelson's bill to study algae blooms, aid those affected


Senators want to end endangered species protection for Florida panthers, lots more


Impact of hurricanes on 2018 state elections? Could it be category five?


Fresen sentenced to 60 days in jail for failing to file tax returns


Report reveals truth about corporations and the president

When they are bound to tell the truth to shareholders, public companies across the United States say they view the Trump administration as a negative influence, revealing that the president's "business-friendly" approach has been unconvincing to businesses. A forensic investigation (link is external) into the 10-K filings of 380 public companies conducted by the Hedge Clippers and the American Federation of Teachers, released last week, shows that when it counts, in official Securities and Exchange Commission filings for shareholders, firms say they believe Trump will have a negative impact on their bottom line. Of the 380 companies that mentioned the Trump administration in 10-Ks filed in the seven months after the election (and prior to the president's statements on Charlottesville), more than half indicated they saw him as a threat to their business success, and eight out of ten said Trump was negative or neutral. The report, "Corporate America to SEC: Trump Is Bad for Business (link is external)," is significant because it reveals that companies' public claims of support for a "businessman president" who promised a business-friendly climate are no match for material concerns such as healthcare and financial regulations. Last month, the president's business council was disbanded after members resigned en masse when Trump failed to condemn the white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members after Charlottesville. But the report reveals that, well before then, corporations were already jumping ship, even if some seemed content to ignore Trump's attacks on Muslims, immigrants and the environment in the hope of securing looser policies and regulations. AFT President Randi Weingarten said: "This report is groundbreaking because it reveals what corporations really think of the president — that is, what they say when they're forced to tell the truth to shareholders in official filings. Despite their public statements to the contrary, it's clear that where it really counts — in 10-K reports in which they're bound by a duty to be honest under federal law — the 'businessman president' lacks the confidence of the business community. Only big banks and fossil fuel firms that expect a windfall from this administration — because of its public positions on Dodd-Frank and climate change — are solidly behind Trump. We knew that Trump was exploiting the anxiety many Americans feel and was further polarizing the communities in which we live and work; now we know that even before his business council disbanded he was causing alarm and anxiety inside the companies he is relying on to fuel economic growth."


What you need to know about the Supreme Court’s gerrymandering case


History frowns on partisan gerrymandering


Back at full strength, Supreme Court faces a momentous term


Let wronged workers join together for justice


Facebook to turn over Russia-linked ads


NSA warned White House against using personal email


ACLU fights federal warrants seeking political communications of Facebook users


Mueller has no comment


Republican tax cut would benefit wealthy and corporations, report finds


Trump pitches tax cuts as “rocket fuel” for the economy


Deeply divided GOP agrees on one thing: People like Trump need a huge tax cut


Republican tax plan may not be built to last


Republicans defend tax plan as a middle-class tax cut


Time to end the happy talk and grill the tax-plan salesmen


For the GOP, the only thing is tax cuts


Don’t be a tax-cut sucker


Schumer points to Kansas to criticize Trump’s tax plan


How two sentences in tax plan may help unleash $1 billion in lobbying


Senate GOP budget sets Obamacare repeal aside, orders tax bill by November


Provision buried in new Senate budget resolution is a major blow to transparency


Nine million kids get health insurance under CHIP. Congress let it expire.


Trump’s next move on health care? Choice for secretary may offer clue


Hill Democrats demand answers from Trump on Obamacare “sabotage”


“Little lobbyists” help save the health care law, for now


Uncertainty over Obamacare's future sends premiums up, budgets down


Republicans ignore Trump’s bipartisan “Dreamers” deal


On “Dreamers” deal, Democrats face a surprising foe: the “Dreamers”


As DACA decision looms, “Dreamers” hold out hope


Feds say border security is toughest ever, so is a wall still needed?


Meet the Air Force general who delivered a powerful lesson in leadership


Anthem singer who kneeled gets death threats


Equifax board forms panel to review executives' share sales


Health secretary Price resigns after drawing ire for chartered flights


Price couldn’t get past charter flight scandal


Trump’s breaking point with Price


Zinke misleads on travel expenses in speech to conservative think tank


White House to Cabinet: No private air travel without Kelly's approval


VA chief hit Wimbledon, cruise on European trip; taxpayers cover wife’s expenses


How the bankruptcy system is failing black Americans


Trump takes on all comers, believing himself the victor


Divert, divide, destroy


Blaming the people


Trump kids' ski vacation incurs over $300,000 in security costs


Kelly struggling to make sense of Kushner's West Wing role


Kushner’s entitlement is New Jersey born and bred


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