Jeb Bush foundation using ‘parent trigger’ to trigger donationsby Dara Kam | March 6th, 2012
The controversial “Parent Empowerment” proposal isn’t just causing a bipartisan kerfuffle in the Senate where critics say the measure is a cash cow for for-profit charter schools and private management companies.
But the “parent trigger” measure could also make hay for Gov. Jeb Bush’s non-profit Foundation for Florida’s Future. Bush is backing the bill, pushed by Los Angeles-based Parent Revolution and education reformer Michelle Rhee and fiercely opposed by a teachers’ unions and a Florida coalition of parent-led groups, including the PTA.
Patricia Levesque, executive director of Bush’s Foundation, sent out a blast e-mail asking supporters to contact their senators to urge them to vote for the bill. But that wasn’t all.
“Additionally, won’t you help us in our efforts to fight those opposed to parents’ rights? Please consider making a one-time contribution of $500 or $1,000 or a monthly contribution of $50 or $100 to the Foundation for Florida’s Future. With your support, we can ensure that parents have representation and more options as it relates to their child’s education,” Levesque wrote.
Levesque sent out the missive in response to a blast message from left-leaning Progess Florida condemning the bill.
According to the exchange, the forces lining up on either side of the issue range from Koch brothers to the League of Women Voters.
“Anti-public school extremists in the Florida Senate are trying to pull a fast one, and we need your help right now,” the Progress Florida e-mail began. “So, if not parent groups, who is really behind this latest attack on public schools? According to Parents Across America “model legislation based on the Parent Trigger has been written and promoted by ALEC, the shadowy organization backed by the Koch brothers that has a radical right-wing agenda.” And who profits? Not parents and students. No, the ones who profit are unaccountable corporate charter school operators who aren’t held to the same standards as public schools and don’t necessarily have the best interests of students, parents or teachers at heart.
That prompted the e-mail from Levesque:
“Yesterday, the Foundation for Florida’s Future tweeted “Conspiracy theories and outright lies—who knew #edreform would be so exciting?” This was in response to emails, like the one below, that are being sent in opposition to the Parent Empowerment Act. You will not find the vitriol in the below email surprising. Despite incredible successes over the past 10 years, those who seek to protect the status quo are as passionate as ever. This includes the League of Women Voters, AFL-CIO, Florida Education Association and local affiliates such as Fund Education Now and Save our Schools.”
The Senate is set to take up the measure on Thursday and an ugly committee meeting – along with the above exchange – set the stage for what will likely be a heated debate before a vote on Friday.