UPDATE 9:03 a.m. Jackie Schutz says "Governor Scott asked Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart to convene the summit to provide the opportunity to openly discuss ideas and options to continue improving Florida's public school system. Governor Scott was not scheduled to attend." She also provided a list of invitees, posted atthe end of this blog.
So.... Monday through today, Rick Scott has been holding "Governor Rick Scott's Education Accountability Summit" -- an event that's touted as "historic" on the state's website.
Except that um, er, uh... We're hearing that Rick Scott has not been in attendance. An agenda shows that duties have been handed off to Department of Education staff. The governor's agenda shows he's been having normal days at the office. He hasn't Tweeted since August 23rd, when he was busy bragging about his purple tie and seeing the Orlando City Lions soccer team. An e-mail was sent late last night to his office to see what he was doing besides attending this rare and important event. (He always makes it to his hurricane summits!)
Some teachers are complaining that the education summit is being held during school hours, at the very critical beginning of the school year, when most teachers cannot attend -- but corporate bigwigs can. State senator Dwight Bullard said that mostly white men showed up.
This has fired up an already-fired-up group called the Badass Teachers Association. This group is tired of public schools getting decimated while students and dollars get sucked away to charter schools that are really investment vehicles. It's tired of standardized testing that only benefits the corporations that administer it. The BATS want teachers to be trusted in the classroom, and to stomp out the idea that bad-teachers-who-can't-be-fired bogeymen are the cause for all education ills.
Though the BATs hail from all around the country,and are organized through a closed Facebook group, they jump in where needed, and Rick Scott is just too rich a target. He likes to tout himself as strong on education, but he can be tricky -- he took credit for phasing out the FCAT (even though that change was underway before he took office) or when he took credit for putting $1 billion into the education budget after it had been sliced by $1.3 billion the year prior. While he has pushed for teacher raises, he is still largely seen as a pro-privatization guy following in Jeb Bush's shadow.
Michael Weston, a BATs leader in Florida and candidate for School Board in Hillsborough County, is attending the summit and sending dispatches. From his blog, gopublicschool.com:
What was conspicuously absent from today's kick-off of the Governor's Florida Education Summit, a governor, may prove a telling roadmap to the summit's conclusions...The panel is a virtual who's-who of Florida education deform. Well represented are the State Legislators that brought us SB736, the Teacher Blame Act, and its punishing teacher evaluation methodology. No problems there. Jeb Bush, the founder of the A-F school grading system is well represented by his Foundation; don't look here for trouble. Interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart will be blindly steadfast in her support of common-core; she finds it the "best decision for the future of our students". She can't possibly know why it is the best decision, it just is. No issues in that office (where is Tony Bennett now?).
(Tony Bennett is the state's education commissioner who was recently forced to resign after he was caught changing the grade of a charter school from a C to an A in order to please a corporate master. )
The other BATs are using their BAT power to pull off a BAT action: trolling Rick Scott on Facebook, Twitter, and his phone line.
On Scott's Facebook page, which he mainly uses to post pictures of his grandbabies, angry teachers are saying things like:
"Our children are NOT commodities. Our children are NOT goods to be used for investment purposes. Our children and students are precious and unique. Our wonderful public school teachers deserve far more respect than you have shown. The latest slap in the face is to hold an education summit when teachers cannot attend! We know why and we will make it known far and wide."
Invited by Governor Scott and Commissioner Stewart with the assistance of education partners:
Gary Chartrand State Board of Education
Marshall Criser Business Community Leader
Mark Wilson Business Community Leader
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho Miami-Dade County
Superintendent Joe Joyner St. Johns County
Superintendent Bill Husfelt Bay County
Patricia Levesque Foundation for Florida's Future
Andy Ford Florida Education Association
Jeff Wright Florida Education Association
Joanne McCall Florida Education Association
Patty Hightower School Board Chair, Escambia County
Wayne Blanton Florida School Boards Association
Eileen Segal Florida PTA
Linda Kearschner Parent
Juhan Mixon Florida Association of School Administrators
Laura Zorc Parent, Florida Parents Against Common Core
Anthony Lockhart School Principal, Atlantic Community High, Palm Beach County
John Kirtley Florida Charter School Alliance
Doug Tuthill Step Up For Students
Keith Calloway Professional Educators Network, Broward County
Steve Chambers Professional Educators Network, Okaloosa County
Dorina Sackman 2014 Teacher of the Year, Orange County
Alex Lopes 2013 Teacher of the Year, Miami-Dade County
Apryl Shackelford Teacher of the Year, Duval County
Jennifer Grove Business Community Leader, Workforce Florida Inc. Vice Chair
Randy Osborne Community Leader
Joe Gruters CPA, Sarasota County
Mark Wilson Florida Chamber of Commerce
Maureen Wilt Florida Power & Light
Invited by President Gaetz:
Senator John Thrasher Senator John Legg Senator Bill Galvano Senator Bill Montford
Invited by Speaker Weatherford: Representative Marlene O'Toole Representative Erik Fresen Representative Janet Adkins Representative Reggie Fullwood