Members of the School Board have gone on record opposing Amendment 8.
Board member Becki Couch led the effort to oppose the constitutional amendment, which will be on the ballot in November.
The proposed amendment does three things:
- Imposes term limits school board members.
- Allows a new entity to approve charter schools.
- Requires more education in civics in the government schools.
Couch said her opposition was based on the charter school provision. She said it takes away the power of elected officials to control the approval of charter schools.
Her resolution, which was approved Aug. 7, asserts, “Transferring the authority to establish a public school to an entity other than the school district would permit and encourage the creation of a parallel system of free public schools which threatens the state’s ability to comply with the constitutional mandate for a uniform system of free public schools.”
Board member Scott Shine has another take.
He supports Amendment 8 and is working statewide for its passage.
“Studies by all sides of this issue consistently indicate that about two-thirds of citizens support the concept of charter schools and support term limits,” Shine told Eye on Jacksonville.
“We also know that the error rate Florida’s public school boards have in rejecting charters is abysmal. In fact, the vast majority of charter applications rejected by local school boards are approved on appeal to the Florida Charter School Appeals Commission. (The commission is made up of three charter school and four public school representatives.)
“When a school board rejects a statutorily consistent charter application, that board violates Florida law it has sworn an oath to uphold. This clearly shows a need to reform this process as it harms charter schools acting within the law, and costs the taxpayer legal fees that should go to the classroom. By and large, efforts against education reform initiatives (like Amendment 8) are driven by liberal and union operatives who primarily work to protect the jobs of those who perform poorly in the classroom. Charter schools offer accountability that union driven public schools cannot. We need to change from a “union driven” school system to a “student driven” system. Ultimately, the decision on the amendment is in the hands of the voters. Opponents of Amendment 8 are working hard to keep voters from even having a chance to vote on the issue. This is an insult to the voters and a corruption of the process.
“As for the Duval County School Board: 1) today, we have term limits on school board members through the Jacksonville charter, 2) we have among the best records with the Charter Appeal’s Commission regarding our accuracy in approving or denying charter applications, 3) We teach civics and this was a bill sponsored a few years back by Jacksonville’s own Rep. Charles McBurney.
“In essence, Jacksonville is the one county that will see virtually no change in operations because we already do all those things in Amendment 8. So, if the argument is Amendment 8 is wrong then you have to say DCPS is wrong, because we do it today.”
Big Education, which includes unions and liberals and is often referred to by reformers as The Blob, objects to the amendment and is attempting to dissuade voters from approving it.
Powerful teacher unions already have too much influence with elected school boards, and the union bosses tolerate charter schools only because they have a greater fear of the competition from private schools, via school choice. They pose a greater threat than merely providing another avenue for charter school operators who want to offer parents more options. The other two provisions also would level the playing field.