Tonight Florida Democrats hold their annual self congratulatory dinner in Hollywood. But outside, TPH has learned of possible small protests and large discontent among education activists thanks to the continued unwillingness of the state’s Democrats to stand up for public education.
Florida ranks 49th in the nation in public education funding per $1,000 of personal income according to the National Education Association.
Tonight’s headline speaker, Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa is a supporter of the Parent Trigger bill and Michelle Rhee’s “reform” group whose primary goal is to bust teachers unions. The push for “parent trigger” started in California, where the effort was organized not by local parents but by a pro-charter school organization called Parent Revolution, a Los Angeles organization funded in part by the Walton Family Foundation, much like All Children Matter the organization headed John Kirtley. Parent Revolution helped Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future push the bill through the Florida Legislature.
Thankfully, a coalition of moderate Republicans (many of whom were term-limited) and Democrats killed parent trigger in the 2012 Legislative session. However, with those moderate Republicans almost certainly being replaced by more conservative ones (for example, both contestants to replace term limited parent trigger opponent Dennis Jones in SD-22 voted for the bill in the House) parent trigger is certain to return next year. This year it was defeated on a tie 20-20 vote in the state senate.
Many legislative Democrats continue to raise money from the forces committed to further destroying public education in the state. Florida’s ranking of 49th is due to the ideologically driven effort by Florida Republicans since their 1996 takeover of the state legislature to defund public education and promote voucher programs. The Democrats are becoming more complicit with this every passing year, while other states have stronger progressive champions who have rallied the party to fight these damaging efforts.
When will Florida’s Democrats finally stand up for our public schools? It probably won’t be tonight, sadly.
UPDATE: Dave Trotter will report on the protests tonight if they in fact do occur. I have also heard in the past few hours from some activists who choose not to attend the Jefferson-Jackson because of who the keynote speaker was. Look for updates throughout the evening.