A few months back, the Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit asking the courts to declare the tax credit scholarship program unconstitutional.
The day it filed this latest attempt to force families back into district schools, Joanne McCall looked out her window in Tallahassee and saw nearly a hundred frightened, angry parents, teachers and students gathered to protest ending the scholarships on which they have come to depend. McCall heard their shouts and concerns, read their placards pleading with her to “Save Our Scholarships,” then went online and called them dogs.
“A hit dog will holler,” McCall gleefully tweeted.
Apparently, when Joanne McCall looks at low-income, mostly minority families, making their voices heard – that’s what she sees.
Since then, in an attempt to explain this frivolous lawsuit, she’s made blatantly false comments. Many studies show that tax credit scholarships save the state money. She continues to insist the opposite. The Florida Department of Education requires participating schools to administer standardized tests to prove learning gains in students. Yet she dares to suggest that schools have no accountability.
This week, Joanne McCall got sloppy.
“About 3 percent of that scholarship money is being used to do this media campaign …” she said about a separate coalition of minority leaders rallying to support scholarship families.
Those school choice supporters are not being paid with scholarship money. And McCall knows it. Even after being given an opportunity by reporter James Call to walk back her comments, the FEA stood by McCall’s lie.
Repeating a lie does not make it true or right. The FEA is damaging its credibility in the court of public opinion with this reaction. This damage may extend to the courts of law.
Perhaps McCall reacted the way she did because last week a judge threw out another attempt to block school choice. The FEA wanted SB 850 declared unconstitutional. This law expanded the scholarship program that, thanks to thousands of parents around the state, passed on the last day of Session. The FEA failed. And I’m sure that stung. So McCall is fighting back.
And fighting recklessly.
Remember, not a single penny of scholarship program budget is being spent on the recently launched campaign by the National Alliance for School Choice. It is the organization behind the Save Our Scholarships Coalition, which took out a full-page ad Wednesday in the Tallahassee Democrat and held a conference call urging FEA and the School Board Association to drop their lawsuit.
Perhaps McCall has become so accustomed to spreading lies that she doesn’t recognize the truth anymore, just like she doesn’t understand the difference between concerned parents and dogs.