Letter: Ask legislators to limit Florida lobbyists

Dennis McDonald
Flagler County FL

Dear Historic City News editor:

This year our new Speaker of the Florida House Richard Corcoran brought in on his own initiative, the ability for Floridians to gain eye witness to the inner sanctum of the Florida lobbyist pay to play world in Tallahassee legislation.

Never did I believe there would be such a bold departure from “politics as usual” in our great State of Florida. So, with this wonderful opportunity at hand, I opened the back door and considered “who is pulling the strings” in Florida textbooks and virtual curriculum.

Surprise – it’s Pearson PLC using the name of one of its forty sub corporations, Prentice Hall. Additionally, we have McGrawHill, owned by Apollo Global Management, a separate mega provider that retains a solid position in the “trough” of this educational tax dollar behemoth that I know as Common Core, or federal education.

Pearson is said to control 80% of the public-school curriculum in the US and claims to be the global leader. Pearson PLC’s yearly revenues reported in August 2016 said to be as large as $4.47 billion. Of greatest concern is that Pearson is a multinational corporation based in England. It has its primary listing on the British stock exchange and a secondary listing on the NYSE. Let’s pause and consider whether our Florida students need curriculum provided by a multinational corporation from outside the USA where it is known that most of the actual educational product is produced in India. Now, add to the fact that millions of Florida tax dollars are exported out of the USA for Common Core, a copyrighted system whose claims have never been validated by educational experts. In my opinion this defies logic and is the poison pill that will be the end of free American public education intended to enrich each student!

What strikes me as completely out of bounds is the fact that our Legislature has laws on our books that require a certain content for Florida curriculum and materials, but our state Department of Education approves materials that do not meet the requirements of section 1003.42(2)a-f F.S.

Why bother to have a Florida Department of Education if they won’t follow the laws our Legislature makes? I believe the Lobbyists are to blame with that constant infusion of “donations” to key legislators that make this ‘persuasion’ invisible, until now. Mega money speaks loudest, except on Election Day when they pander to the voters!

The solution is SB.1210 and HB.989 that will provide the ability of our 67 schools boards to control what curriculum they use. As it stands now school boards are forced fed without the ability to say no. Remember back in 2014 when the Legislators all returned from session trumpeting a new law they just passed that would give school boards local control of this basic aspect of education? That was “theory” or what I call wishful thinking. In practice the law said “may” not “shall” so it was “False News” (FS 1006.283). It reminded me of another piece of “False News” when we were told they got rid of Common Core in Florida. In fact all they did was remove the “words” Common Core 27 times by approving SB1642/HB7031 and relabel it Florida Standard Assessment.

That insult to Florida Taxpayers and student’s intelligence was provided by faux leaders like Janet Adkins, Marleen O’Toole and John Legg. The good news, they are all GONE as of the 2016 election and, with Speaker Corcoran’s new rule, would not be able further destroy Florida education as lobbyists.

I ask all Floridians check the Florida House website MYFLORIDAHOUSE.GOV to see for themselves the lobbyist’s direct connections with legislators. Then call your legislator and ask them to sponsor and pass SB.1210 and HB.989.

We cannot allow our tax dollars paid for Florida education to continue to be hijacked by foreign national corporations by using Tallahassee lobbyists. Speaker Corcoran’s six-year ban on former members lobbying is another major step forward in setting new high ground and draining the Tallahassee swamp.

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