The numerous connections between businesses, political players, and the current brand of education reform makes for a conspiracy theorist’s candy shop. Unfortunately, its hard to chalk the such theories up to an overactive imagination once the relationships are exposed.
I received the below response and link resources from a Florida parent/teacher/SB6 opponent concerning the myriad special interests shaping education policy, specifically as they relate to SB6 in Florida. The person who sent this to me wishes to stay anonymous, so I have simply posted the comments as I received them.
The word of the day is transparency.
There are issues…the Chamber of Commerce, special interests lobbies like Southern Strategies, Inc lobbyists, EdOption, the College Board (nationally) …there are so many special interests just waiting for our kids to fail.
The bills this week — vouchers, accountability, even funding charters — are all in favor of private interests.
Aside from a few brave Republicans, the Chamber of Commerce and its Council of 100 are the purse strings that are shaping legislative policy, and I think that is a no-no.
Not sure if legal lines have been crossed, but the public info on the internet pieced together….connecting the dots…is enough to raise questions.
It is also interesting how info has been altered this week. There is the Chamber of Commerce site, now mysteriously under construction on its Board of Directors page. There are the business links…companies like Publix, Disney, Outback…banks, insurance firms, financial firms, computer software, computer hardware, laptops, ipods, computer theft control, data analysis groups, test making groups….and slews of nonprofits that mislead the public for donations to fund the campaigns for these special interests. And, then there are the private/charter / voucher schools… more specal interests… (You do a great job in your article with it).
So, here are some of the dots we found:
The lobbyist named for the Chamber of Commerce is Gary C. Lieffer. He is paid by special interests such as Ed Options.
The Chamber of Commerce gave Ed Options their new business of the year award.
The interconnection between these lobbyists and the companies waiting in the wings for FL teachers to fail is too great. The connection between Thrasher and the Chamber’s Council of 100 is another issue. The Council of 100 first introduced a plan for Florida schools that led to the drafting of SB6.
The Chamber of Commerce funded Thrashers election to the Senate when former Senator King passed away last fall. The drama goes on…
Not to mention, Thrasher is the founder of one of the largest lobbying firms in the country, Southern Strategies Group. Prior to his election to Senate in the fall, he was a lobbyist working with the Council of 100 companies that are pushing this bill through the Legislature. The Council of 100 businesses are also strong supporters of Bush’s Foundation, a “nonprofit” group of “bipartisanship” that apparently are all FOR SB6.
The amount of lobbyist influence in this matter is scary.
There is a clear connection between Thrasher, Crist, and Jeb Bush.
There is also a connection between Florida’s Race to the Top (RTTT) and Jeb’s desire to get legislation that strengthens charter schools and vouchers. This is apparently how the online education interests are involved. There is money to be made from RTTT, and these online schools, software/computer/computer security companies and other private interests all want a piece of the pie.
Apparently the RTTT has a provision for charter schools and the virtual schools could fill the gaps of our school’s deficits by establishing virtual charter schools…using RTTT monies. Apparently schools like Bush’s and Ed Options Blue Ridge school stand to profit.
The TailGate Party…
Council of 100 Board of Directors…now under construction, that is where we found the lobbyist names, they wthdrew it hours after we posted the lobbyist info from sunbiz and the EdOptions comments…
Florida Chamber of Commerce
Jeb Bush still calling the shots …this Foundation was behind the emailings to teachers via school state email from teacher liason, … Fl Dept of Education employee…the email had all Bush’s Foundation rhetoric in the email.
The Jeb foundation search in public records leads to a registered agent named Derek Newton
isnt that Jeb Foundaton a nonprofit…can they speak out in this manner…He didn’t disclose that he was with the foundation in video?
some other interesting tidbits…
We are hoping to organize a protest of businesses. There are many involved, if only by donation. We want Publix, Walt Disney World, Outback. If Crist gives us a whole week…we will have no wear to buy groceries and Mickey will blacklist us… but those companies will put pressure on Crist. And, pressure on Crist …is good. I think?