March 20, 2019 - 9:00am
It’s time to stop applauding the efforts of union-funded special interests -- masquerading as “teachers” --- working to deny students the opportunity to pursue their dreams.
We all have fond memories of a teacher who changed our lives. The FEA knows this and is exploiting our love for teachers to bully legislators and suppress the will of families for one reason: MONEY. Specifically, the money they collect from hard-working Florida teachers. Now they are using this money to run a self-proclaimed “six figure campaign” against Florida families.
This is shameful.
The union is engaged in psychological warfare and willing to sacrifice the best interests of children in the process. They use words like “diverting, funneling, and siphoning,” as though the money belongs to them and is not generated to educate students.
The union calls for “fully funding” public education and then sets up a false narrative that students who chose a non-union school are depleting resources.
Funding levels are the highest they have ever been in Florida and the results of reforms demonstrate that Florida education is improving.
Do they consider it “draining” resources when a student moves to a neighboring county? Mass migrations for employment happen when a new major employer creates jobs, and districts adjust by scaling back expenses. It’s not “draining,” it is moving.
When money follows the student, the student is served. Public schools are funded by the state based on how many students they serve. The money follows the child to the school, because the child creates the demand for resources -- supplies, teachers, space, etc. The presence or lack of choice schools doesn’t add or subtract funding from traditional public schools. In fact, some research shows a benefit because when students leave for choice schools, their former public schools continue receiving their full allocation of local and federal dollars, meaning increased per-pupil funding for those students who stay.
But to the unions, parents who don’t choose employers (schools and their teachers) within their membership are “diverting” funds from public schools. Again, the union is focused on the funds. Funds. Funds! What about the children?
We see through this.
For a parent, “diverting” a child from a zoned school can mean diverting a child from failure, stagnation, bullying or prison, and “funneling” the child into a life of success, purpose and met needs.
A recent study suggests that school choice programs reduce drug arrests and teen pregnancy, and another study demonstrates that students on these programs not only attend college at higher rates, but also graduate at higher rates. These programs are literally helping make dreams come true.
Most public school teachers aren’t told they don’t have to join the union, as they are ushered into paying more than $600 annually in union dues, more than lawyers pay for their Bar dues. The teachers who teach in charter and private schools aren’t union dues-paying members, but they are still part of an honorable profession. Our complaint isn’t with teachers, it’s with the union thugs who want to hold children hostage for their per-pupil funding.
Instead of waging psychological warfare against the dreams of children and the rights of families, the union could use that “six figure” advertising spend -- comprised of teachers’ hard-earned money -- to buy supplies for the classroom to help teachers be more effective without taxing their personal accounts.
They won’t. Do you know why? Because it won’t help them increase the money in their membership dues account.
The union doesn’t work for students, and they barely work for teachers. It’s an abusive relationship where they want to control the checkbook, telling teachers what to think and blaming “outsiders” for the problems in their relationship.
The war the union is waging on non-union schools is an effort to grow union dues by eliminating competition. They don’t care who is harmed in the process.
Let’s “siphon” the negative campaigning against the aspirations of children, and “divert” power to parents to represent their children’s needs. Let’s put students first.
There is more at stake than money. Lives are at stake. Children can’t write checks, so there won’t be a major “six-figure ad spend” to fight for their freedom. But we can and will use our voices.
It’s time to release the students being held hostage for their per-pupil funding and let educational freedom ring.
Shawn Frost is a former public school science teacher, managing member of MVP Strategy and Policy, LLC, former Indian River County School Board member, School Choice Movement board member, as well as founder and past president of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members.