If you are receiving this posting and have been following me for very long you know I think there is a level of cronyism and corruption taking place in Tallahassee in regard to our Education system and in particular “Charter” schools. In addition, the connections between the FL. legislators, the FLDOE and Jeb Bush’s Foundations has come to the point of “out of control”. The Florida Legislature is in the process of trying to “clean” it’s house by writing a new Ethics Bill of which I stated the other day does not go far enough or deep enough.
Today the following information was brought out by a fellow blogger Bob Sikes on his blog “Scathing Purple Musings. I am happy to say we think quite a bit alike when it comes to the Education system in Florida or should I say “lack of Education”. The DC watchdog group “In the Public Interest” is doing a great job.
← Bush Foundation “staff acted to promote their corporate funders priorities” – Posted on January 30, 2013 by Bob Sikes
Today’s release of emails from a DC watchdog indeed provided some troubling revelations. Among these were arranging travel and reimbursements for Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) staffers and examples of clear advocacies for their corporate donors. But more than anything else, the sheer volume of emails between multiple Foundation for Excellence in Education(FEE) staffers and state employees at the Florida Department of Education made the two appear almost co-dependent. So many policy questions and requests for data were made by FEE staffers to numerous FLDOE staff that one would more likely be left with the impression that the later worked for the former.
Most disturbing of these involved attempts to dictate policy and legislation. This from “In the Public Interest”:
In addition to sending an invitation to the FL state board of education to attend a press conference in support of parent trigger legislation, FEE staff were very much involved in legislation affecting the state’s school turnaround procedures, which include converting some neighborhood schools to charter schools. (Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson) emailed (Jeb Bush CEO Patricia Levesque) in December 2011 to review the Department of Education’s Differentiated Accountability Draft Legislation. Levesque writes, “I think we need to add a sec into this bill to give you/the department authority to set a state‐approved list of charter operators or private providers so districts can’t pick poor performers to implement turnaround. Also, you/State Board should have more authority to enforce a strict timeline for turnaround models.2” If Charter Schools USA, the for-profit operator, were included on the “state approved list,” it could improve the company’s growth potential.
And this involving Florida’s No Child Left Behind waiver:
Levesque made her and her team’s resources available in February 2012 to “help with any defense of Florida’s waiver, push back on Ed Trust’s report.” (Education Trust’s report, which rated each state’s NCLB waiver application, noted that Florida’s accountability system did little to address achievement gaps.) Chiefs for Change, another Jeb Bush-related education group, became aware of the report, because Paul Pastorek, who, as the former Louisiana state Superintendent, was a member of Chiefs for Change, attended a meeting about waivers at the Federal Department of Education as a representative of the Chiefs. New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf’s private response about the ratings to a representative from Education Trust was shared with Robinson by Levesque along with the note: “Did Gerard get his copy of their review? We would like to help respond.” Levesque and the Foundation were an integral part of the waiver process in Florida; at one point Robinson emailed a staffer saying “Please connect with Patricia as you did before to discuss our latest draft document. Also, take a look at a document she me about our waiver.”
It is clear that Levesque and her staff have been enlisting the assets of the FLDOE to support legislation they’ve crafted on behalf of their clients like Pearson and Charter Schools USA. Moreover, the never-ending requests for data reveal even more. FEE has been manipulating the FLDOE to conform to it’s agenda while using it as a tool to maintain the Florida Model Jeb Bush sells to state legislatures all over the country.
My added thoughts to this – I am not surprised it has surfaced and I am very grateful that it has. There is even more to come!
I would hope that you will read into these communications exactly what is here – the connection between the Florida Department of Education, Jeb Bush’s Chief of Staff Patricia Levesque and the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s manipulation or attempts to manipulate the legislation regarding Charter Schools in Florida and also the relationship s between the FLDOE, the Bush Foundations, Charter School and now Virtual School businesses and their “for-profit” “public-private” donors.
1. Gerard Robinson leaving the post as Florida’s Commissioner of Education “early” after reading this only endorses my thoughts that he found he was having to serve far too many masters and maybe his “ethical” side took over – we can only hope!
2. Florida now being graced with Jeb Bush’s Chief’s for Change “leader” as our Commissioner of Education and reading this information only makes me feel far more uncomfortable than I did before – especially when I know at least HALF of our State School Board is sleeping with Jeb Bush and his Foundations and have for some time in one capacity or another.
3. We have legislators who have been drafting policy to enrich the pockets of the likes of “Charter Schools USA” and their CEO Jonathan Hage and Mr. Hage being chosen as Florida’s “Man of the Year”. By the way – his children do not attend any Charter schools – his 4 children attend Pine Crest School, a private school at a tune of $20K per child, per year. He complains the closest Charter school to his home is 30 minutes away. (I still am curious as to how many of our Florida legislators send their children to Private schools).
4. Then there are the legislators drafting policy and putting into effect bills regarding Charter schools while enriching their pockets -Rep. Fresen, Academica; John Legg, Day Spring Academy; Rep. Seth McKeel, South McKeel Elementary Academy and Sen. Anitere Flores (Doral Academy.
5. How about the legislators who were as of 12/2012 (can’t say if they still are because Jeb Bush changed his web site) serving on Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education: Sen. Don Gaetz, Sen, John Negron, then Senator Thrasher and Rep. Weatherford.
Time and again the ethics have been overlooked and excused and I can tell you Patricia Levesque holds the same status and push in her job as does Valarie Jarrett in hers. These are very dangerous women who have perfected the ability of control and manipulation.
If Patricia Levesque comes calling put out the call “DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER”! Maine’s Commissioner of Education Stephen Bowen might in the long run have been better off in making that call than the one he did to Patricia Levesque asking for her help in setting up Jeb Bush’s program in their state. Time will tell since he has been lured into the Levesque’s “spiderweb” and is now one of Jeb Bush’s Chief’s for Change also!
“Oh what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”