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FL Dems Speak Out on GOP's Voucher Scheme Which Drains Millions from Public Schools

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Across the state, Florida Democrats are speaking out: blasting the Republicans for their support of charters, vouchers and virtual school schemes. These  reckless policies drain millions from our local public schools, takes local control away from parents and teachers, and gives our tax dollars to out of state corporations who want to profit off our children's education. Statements and background below: 

STATEMENT FROM LINDA STEWART, HD-47

"Investing in our local public schools is the key to growing our economy, protecting the middle class and helping businesses create jobs. That's why it's so disappointing that, instead of strengthening our education system, Republicans are draining millions of dollars from our public schools and giving these tax dollars to out of state corporations who want to profit off our children's education. Even worse, my opponent has refused to condemn his party's massive cuts to our public education system. We need a leader who will stand up for the middle class families of Orlando who depend on and deserve a strong and vibrant public school system." 

STATEMENT FROM DWIGHT DUDLEY, HD-68: 

"Whether it's fighting to stop teacher layoffs or keep our class sizes small, I will fight to improve our schools. That's why it's so disturbing that my opponent supports the GOP's voucher scheme, which would drain millions from our local public schools and give our tax dollars to Tallahassee corporate interests who want to profit off our children's education. And even worse, Farkas and the Republicans' plan would take local control over our schools away from our parents. Our students, teachers and parents deserve a leader who will fight to protect, invest and grow our schools -- because strong public schools are a key pathway to success for middle class families." 

STATEMENT FROM JOSH SHULMAN, HD-69: 

 "When Florida Republicans say they care about education — but drain millions from our public schools and send our tax dollars to out of state companies who are more interested in making a profit that teaching our children — it's hard to trust them with Florida's future. The GOP's voucher scheme isn't just a bad plan for teachers, students and parents, it's a reckless waste of our tax dollars. That's why I've pledged to stand up to these corporate special interests and make sure that we support our public schools which are the key to growing the economy for the middle class."  

STATEMENT FROM IAN WHITNEY, HD-120: 

"There's a dark side to the Florida GOP's voucher scheme: it drains millions of dollars from our local public schools, recklessly giving our tax dollars to out of state corporations who are more interested in making money for themselves instead of education our children. Taking control of our local schools away from parents is bad for our students, bad for teachers and bad for Florida. We should be investing in our local public schools so that we get our state's economy moving forward again." 

STATEMENT FROM FRANK BRUNO, SD-8

"Draining millions of our tax dollars from our local public schools and sending this money to out of state corporations who want to profit off our children's education is a wasteful, reckless financial policy. We deserve a leader who will fight to to make sure that our tax dollars are being invested in our local public schools so that we can grow our economy for the middle class. Unfortunately, Tallahassee politicians like Dorothy Hukill are supporting the GOP's wasteful voucher scheme. I'll stand up for public schools and ensure that we put teachers, parents and students first."  

BACKGROUND:

Florida Republicans gave $55 million to for-profit Charter schools, while public schools got zero dollars. "School district officials across Florida are bemoaning the Legislature's decision to cut traditional public schools out of PECO — the Public Education Capital Outlay program. The state's 350 charter schools will share $55 million, while the approximately 3,000 traditional schools will go without." [Orlando Sentinel,7/25/11

In 2012, Republicans included 0 dollars for public school construction or repair. "Florida's schools, community colleges and state universities, which anticipate zero construction dollars, will be forced to stop or put off for years many dozens of new projects, including repairs to roofs and air-conditioners” [Sunshine State News, 3/3/2012

For years, Republicans drained tax dollars from public school and gave it to for-profit charters. "For the last three years, the state has given no money for construction, and maintenance money has fallen off… At the same time, separate PECO funding for charter schools has grown;" "At issue: a provision in the budget that allocates $55 million in Public Education Capital Outlay dollars to charter schools. Traditional public schools, which once relied upon PECO dollars for construction and maintenance projects, wouldn't receive any." [Orlando Sentinel, 7/25/11; Tampa Bay Times, 2/8/12

Unlike public schools which are focused on teaching, out of state corporations are focused on profiting off our children's education.  "K12 is an $864 million publicly traded company whose stock price has more than doubled in the last year. In recent years, K12 has increased profits while student performance has suffered, raising questions about whether the for-profit virtual schools provider is making money at the expense of academics. A July 2012 study by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado found that students at K12 schools fell further behind in reading and math scores than pupils in traditional schools. [FCIR, 9/11/12]  

In one instance, a for-profit virtual school "used uncertified teachers," attempted to falsify records and had 275 students per 1 teacher. "The Florida Department of Education has launched an investigation of K12, the nation’s largest online educator, over allegations the company uses uncertified teachers and has asked employees to help cover up the practice. K12 officials asked state-certified teachers to sign class rosters that included students they hadn’t taught, according to documents that are part of the investigation…The documents suggest K12 may be using uncertified teachers in violation of state law;" "A high school teacher working for K12 may have as many as 275 students…" [FCIR, 9/11/12; FCIR, 9/16/12

In another instance, three charter schools abruptly closed, leaving students and parents "scrambling" a month into the school year. "Three Broward charter schools closed their doors to students Friday, a day after the school board was notified of the closures…'It's crazy because they could at least keep school until the end of the school term. Now we've got to be running up and down and trying to put kids in the school,' said Tamar Singh, a mother;" "Last week, three central Broward charter schools abruptly shut their doors, leaving 414 students and their parents scrambling for alternatives a month into the new school year.  [NBC6 Miami, 9/14/12; Orlando Sentinel, 9/19/12]  

"Welcome to the darker side of Florida's world of charter and virtual schools." "Welcome to the darker side of Florida's world of charter and virtual schools. In recent years, state legislators who espouse the virtues of school choice – and private companies who've profited from picking off traditional public school students – have reshaped the educational landscape to an unsettling degree." [Orlando Sentinel, 9/19/12  

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