The heat is building.

The Parent Power movement is growing by leaps and bounds. Still, our so-called “leaders” are employing a variety of methods to stave off the inevitable. Embattled leaders seldom read their situations accurately. Hubris is a blinding malady, and the Republican leaders in the Florida legislature are blind indeed.

Aptly named Florida House Rep. Marlene O’Toole, the House Education Committee chair, essentially told everyone listening (and there were lots of us) that Opting Out is not an option, and that if we didn’t like it, to just go enroll our kids in private schools. Said O’Toole to reporters after the committee held one of its infamous predetermined outcome meetings Friday:

“In public school … you cannot opt out of the tests,” “Every child must have a test. As a parent, if I don’t want to do that … I have the option to take my child and put them in a private school.”

First off, why did she choose to use the first person in her blithering statement? O’Toole, born February 18, 1945, definitely does not have any children in a Florida public school. That alone is a huge problem. We have an entire corps of corporatizers and their cronies attempting to run over the will of school parents across the state of Florida, and they have zero stake in public schools whatsoever other than imploding the entire system in order to line their pockets.

Secondly, she said, “Every child must have a test.” We’re not talking about a test. We’re talking about a very shitty test. We’re talking about too many tests. We’re talking about public education being hijacked by tests.

Back to that pocket-lining thing:

Let’s examine O’Toole: According to Lauren Ritchie of the Orlando Sentinel, O’Toole admitted that she violated Florida’s ethics laws back in March of this year, but not before a lengthy bout of bullshit on her part. The law she broke is the one that requires a lawmaker to disclose when voting on a measure that will put money in his or her own pocket. O’Toole voted several times to give public money to the “nonprofit” organization Take Stock in Children while in its employ. So-called “nonprofits,” especially the sort that employ political cronies to serve as officers or members of their boards, often serve as little more than big salary vehicles for the influential. In O’Toole’s case (how I love her perfect name!) she was on the payroll to the tune of $50,000 while voting on acts to give the same organization money.

That makes her a criminal.

To be clear, Florida isn’t exactly a government ethics rules powerhouse. In fact, Florida has some of the most pitiful ethics rules in the whole country. You have to be a real screw-up to violate them, and violate them she did. She wasn’t even required to sit out the vote; she just had to be honest about her dealings with Take Stock in Children. She chose the opposite. That makes her an abject liar.

Lawmakin’ Legg

State senator John Legg says that we ought to just get over it. Seriously, there are very few Florida politicians who come even remotely close to him in being artfully deceitful. Every dog has his day. His day is coming. Ol’ JohnnyBoy, like his good buddie Richie Corcoran over in the Florida House, stands to make a whole lot of money if he and his charter chums can just get Florida public education to collapse under the weight of all the assessments they have imposed. Regarding Florida’s school grading sham-scam, Johnny says that the legislature’s hands are tied because it can’t vote until January, and Pam Stewart’s Department of Miseducation is bound by statute to issue school grades in December. Are we to believe that the legislature has tied its own hands, in effect forbidding itself from prescribing an antidote to this latest legislative clusterfuck? Johnny wants us to. This guy is so full of audacious pretentiousness that he can’t see the peasants, oops, parents gathering pitchforks and axe handles.

Stewart the Stool

Truth be told, Stewart herself is flouting her own responsibility in this big rotten mess. She has played the part of innocent observer for most of the duration of the FSA saga, loathe to utter a word before first checking with her corporatizing handlers in the legislature. She’s a fit and proper toad, and takes ass-kissing for fun and profit to an entirely new level. With administrative law authority, she has the power to cite gross irregularities in both the content and administration of last year’s FSA debacle and declare it too unsound to base school grades on. That is her authority. She won’t do that, however, because the scoundrels in the legislature need someone to point their fingers at when they say that they are powerless to fix this massive fuck-up. Towards the end of the kangaroo court education committee hearing today, you can see Reggie Fullwood’s surprise when O’Toole brazenly takes the floor from Stewart and issues her own stupefying rant of anti-Opt Out rhetoric. When she was finished, Stewart laid a big verbal smooch right on usurper O’Toole’s backside, as if she really needed to prove to us just who she takes her orders from.

It also turns out that Stewart and her fellow minions had a look at the recent “validity study” and were able to make suggestions about the final product before it was issued to the peasants public. That alone ought to invalidate the whole charade. Where in God’s name is the Department of Justice? I guess in the case of Florida, it would be the FDLE, and it’s quite obvious to any casual observer that those folks don’t bother with government.

It damn sure ain’t over.

O’Toole, like most overconfident despots, seemed to foolishly believe that she had, in all her capital-criminal might, put the matter to rest once and for all, and actually issued a sort of admonition to the rest of the committee that, (after a nauseating mono-drone-on-and-on-blah-blah-blah-listen-to-me-talk-soliloquy) “Cause dat’s what we have to say as a group.”

Cindy Hamilton, the mother of an Orange County high school senior and the leader of Opt Out Orlando, disputed the officials’ arguments that refusing the tests is illegal.

From Politico Florida:

Students’ participation in the testing is required by law, she said. But parents who have joined the protest have largely instructed their children to sit for the test — thereby participating — and simply refuse to answer any questions.

Hamilton said the opt-out movement is a form of civil disobedience, and that “we are not asking permission.”

“Basically what she said was, ‘Comply or get out,’” Hamilton said. “That’s a threat to all citizens of Florida. Public schools belong to the public, and we’re going to take our schools back. We’re not planning to leave.”

If you are a public school parent and you share our revulsion at a state government that is bent beyond redemption on testing your child’s school right out of existence, then go to The OPT OUT Florida Network and get in the fight! The testing terrorists are on the ropes and they’re starting to squirm in their big, cushy, leather committee chairs.

The time to join is NOW.


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