Broward Teachers Union, school board and legislators blast education funding bill, call on Scott to veto bill
L to r: Broward Council of PTAs President Wendy King and legislative director Latha Krishnayier; Broward School Board member Robin Bartleman; Bernie Kemp (BTU-VP ESPs); BTU President Anna Fusco; BTU 1st VP Terry Lopez Preuss; Sen. Gary Farmer; Rep. Bobby Du Bose; Broward School Board member Abby Freedman (at podium); Broward School Board member Dr. Rosalind Osgood; Antonio White and Mindy Grimes-Festge of United Teachers of Dade; Rep. Kristin Jacobs, Rep. Barrington Russell.
TAMARAC, FL – At a press conference called by the Broward Teachers Union this morning and attended by members of the Broward County legislative delegation, the Broward County School Board, the Broward County Council of PTAs and United Teachers of Dade speakers blasted the budget and HB 7069, the controversial 278-page “train” education funding bill passed by the legislature in the final moments of the legislative session.
Focusing on the bill’s highly detrimental effect on public education by its mandate to use taxpayer dollars to replace failing public schools with private charter schools, and its massive expansion of the controversial “Best and Brightest” incentive program, Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco and other speakers called on Governor Rick Scott to veto the bill when it acrosses his desk.
They also called on parents and the community to call and write to the governor to urge him to veto both the budget and HB 7069, which carves out $140 million for a controversial program, Schools of Hope, that would attract and reward charter schools to take over the operation of poorly performing public schools; and would expand the unpopular Best and Brightest teacher bonus incentive program from $49 million to an astonishing $214 million.
“We predict [Schools of Hope] will prove to be a disaster for the students and public schools involved — and a windfall to the for-profit charter schools,” said Fusco. “And if the legislature wants to pour $214 million into the coffers to reward teachers based on their ACT or SAT scores from 20 or more years ago, why not use it for teacher salaries so they stop leaving the profession because they can’t earn enough money to support their families?”
School Board Chair Abby Freedman also focused on HB 7069’s ill-conceived Schools of Hope proposal. Freedman echoed Fusco’s direction to contact the governor’s office to urge him to veto the bill.
Broward Legislative Delegation Chair Rep. Bobby DuBose cited the need to invest in improving inner city schools to create better programs and facilities and to fund higher teacher salaries.
Broward County Legislative Delegation Vice Chair, Sen. Gary Farmer, called Schools of Hope “an unabashed money grab by private entities at the expense of our children. We owe it to ourselves, to our children, to our community, to do everything we can to fight back.”
Adding their voices to the chorus calling on the governor to veto the bill were Reps. Barrington Russell, Kristin Jacobs and Joseph Geller, along with Broward County School Board Members Robin Bartleman and Rosalind Osgood, Broward County Council of PTA Legislative Chair Latha Krish-nayier, Broward County Council of PTAs President Wendy King; and Antonio White, first vice president of United Teachers of Dade.
According to legislators, most did not see the 278-page bill until the last Friday of the legislative session, when they passed it, hoping to make changes.