Themacforums – These are the Worst Times for Public Education in Florida. These are absolutely terrible times for public education in Florida, and in Broward County in particular, so they could both use it.

Vickie Cartwright was eventually fired by Broward, putting an end to months of amateurish, Broward-only trouble.

It lasted 11 tumultuous months, and it was probably doomed in August of last year when Governor Ron DeSantis cleaned house and fired four Broward board members who had been offended by a grand jury. Cartwright experienced a firing, a reinstatement, a 90-day probationary term during which he may improve, and finally, a mutual release on Good Tuesday. She was criticized for “gassing people on fire” and for being a “covert narcissist.”

Cartwright was undoubtedly overburdened and scathingly condemned for ignoring parents, failing to provide textbooks, providing subpar support for gifted pupils, and having other issues. She also seems unprepared for the petty, nasty politics in Broward, but who wouldn’t?

Although the parents’ outrage is understandable, Cartwright could have been treated with more respect. The public beating, she received was called “a wild merry-go-round,” which begs the obvious question: Why would anyone want the Broward job, given the enormous salary?

Our most significant public institution is education, and Broward Schools requires a miracle worker. The candidates selected to succeed Cartwright will find this meeting tape from Tuesday, which might cause them to rethink their choices.

Torey Alston, an unelected board member who contributed to some of the hostility towards Cartwright, put it up this way: “There goes Broward again.”

The State Board of Education, with DeSantis’ backing, rejected an advanced high school pilot course on Black history on the grounds that it violated the restriction on critical race theory set down in a DeSantis-inspired law from 2022. Reparations, Black Feminist Literary Theory, and Black Queer Studies are some of the course’s subjects.

The College Board assessed the course, gave it its seal of approval, and other states also authorized it, but only Florida declared that it “seriously lacked instructional value.” The black community was emotionally devastated by that particular choice of words, and DeSantis is not about to get over it.

Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. declared, “We do not allow waking brainwashing posing as education.”

Last week, protests against the decision were held in the Capitol by outraged black lawmakers and their allies, who waved “Stop the Black Attack” banners and accused DeSantis of “erasing history.” Ben Crump, a civil rights crusader, has threatened to sue the government. Exactly the type of whitewashing of black historical experience that several politicians have warned would ensue from the Stop WOKE Act.

These are the Worst Times for Public Education in Florida

DeSantis is now advocating for a Teacher’s Bill of Rights after giving us classroom censorship last year under the pretext of a Parental Bill of Rights.

It’s a misnamed anti-union initiative that aims to make it more difficult for educators to engage in collective bargaining in right-to-work states where educators and other public workers are given appallingly inadequate wages.

DeSantis’ “carrot-and-stick” approach would look like this in Florida, where teacher salaries rank 48th out of 50 states according to the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers’ union: He would give them another raise but reject theirs. Stop unions from deducting membership fees from employees’ paychecks.

According to the DeSantis plan, if a teachers’ union’s membership falls below 60%, the state would decertify it, and unions would be obliged to provide annual cost reports that included the incomes of union officials.

DeSantis wants school board members to serve eight-year terms, which is another example of a top-down Tallahassee unity government (up from the current 12-year limit and subject to the approval of statewide voters). His Republican colleagues in the legislature will also attempt once more to hold partisan elections for school boards in all 67 counties, turning school elections into full-fledged cultural wars.

Is it any wonder there is a critical teacher shortage in Florida?

These are the Worst Times for Public Education in Florida

Last but not least, the Republican-controlled legislature announced what will undoubtedly take precedence during the next session. No matter their family’s financial situation, all kids would be eligible for private school credit under House Bill 1. The bill breezed over its first hurdle in the House of Representatives committee a few days after it was introduced.

Although Florida’s education policy has long leaned in this direction, detractors are concerned that a widespread coupon program for school districts could be financially disastrous because it could cause a sharp decline in student enrollments, which determines how much funding each district receives from the state each year.

According to the Florida Policy Institute, a liberal research organization, HB 1 would drain $2.4 billion annually from public school finances, or roughly 10% of the state’s present annual funding for public K–12 schools.

Add it all up. A superintendent on her way out the door who is being made to look bad by the public and lawmakers. a frontal assault on teachers’ unions. A governor who is “anti-wake” has banned a black history course. You can start to see the picture when you add in vouchers for everyone, including children from wealthy households whose parents can easily afford the price of private education.

In 2023, welcome to Florida Public Education.