Florida Parent Groups Frustrated by Lack of Access

Check your pockets when a Corporate Education reformer claims to care about parent empowerment; nearly always, as in this case, they are working for their own private ends.

For immediate release.Tallahassee, Florida

On Saturday, March 3, 2012,  for the third time in a matter of weeks, a real Florida parent was cut off mid-sentence during testimony opposing SB 1718/”Parent Empowerment” and told by a sitting Senator that there was no time.  This came after the Senate Budget Committee listened to hours of testimony from paid education industry lobbyists.

On Monday, March 5, 2012, members of the broad alliance of Florida education advocacy groups including: Citizens for Strong Schools, 50th No More, Florida PTA, Fund Education Now, Marions United for Public Education, Parents Across America, Testing is not Teaching, Save Duval Schools and Support Dade Schools traveled to Tallahassee to join a press conference at 9:30 a.m. in Room 301 of the Florida Senate Office Building.  They made the following comments:

“We are here to set the record straight.  We are real Florida moms.  We love our children and the children of this state more than ourselves.  We have a better vision for the future of public education than the old expensive, unproven reforms meant to hurt children and privatize our public schools.  We believe in a single well-funded system of public education that offers remarkable choices.  We believe in fair assessment and fair accountability.  We believe that mutual respect and collaboration between teachers, parents and districts is the key to rescuing our vibrant public schools from being strangled by a punitive, profit-driven “success is never final and reform is never finished” agenda.

We are frustrated that many of the politicians in this building refuse to hear or acknowledge our voice.  For the third time in a week, a real Florida parent testifying against “Parent Empowerment” was cut off in mid-sentence after less than 15 seconds.  We travel to Tallahassee on our own dime.  We arrange for baby sitters, help with homework over the phone and miss countless precious hours of our children’s lives in order to tell our elected officials what we want.  We’re tired of being cut off, interrupted or not allowed to speak.  We’ve heard one politician after another repeat that “parents really need to be empowered.”   The irony is that we are empowered.  We’re here.  We’ve been here.  We represent over half a million Florida parents.

When politicians grant highly paid professional lobbyists unlimited time to testify and refuse to let us speak, it makes us furious.  We are Florida taxpayers, parents and voters.  If we don’t have a right to speak during “Parent Empowerment” testimony, who does?  We are tired of being told by wide-eyed politicians that they have never heard from us. Our position on the Parent Trigger has been repeatedly and widely published by every major newspaper across the state.

We are here today to go on record: Not one legitimate Florida Parent Group has asked for this Parent Trigger/Parent Empowerment legislation.  We do not support this corporate empowerment bill that uses a parent’s love to “pull the trigger” and  pass all that they hold dear into the hands of a for-profit corporation eager to peel off a chunk of every child’s per pupil funding dollars for themselves. We will not be silent while our legislators use our money to fund three separate, unequal and unfair systems of education.  We do not support laws that benefit 10% of the schools while the other 90% suffer.

This is real.  This has gone too far. Florida Public Education is a process not a product.  This asset was created for and funded by the people of this state.  It belongs to us.  We oppose the Parent Empowerment Act and its bad-faith intentions to privatize our public schools.”

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