HB 7079 – Closing Schools Hurts the Community

A new bill titled HB 7079 was introduced in the Florida House last week. This bill has already passed through one subcommittee, and is expected to continue to move through the committee process very quickly.

All parents of children in Florida public schools should be concerned about this bill. It has the potential to disrupt the education of all public school children by forcing the closure of any public school that earns just one D as a school grade.

Parents sitting in A or B schools may think this will not impact their child. I used to think that too. Here is what happened at our A school when a nearby school shut down a few years ago.

The students from the closed school had to go somewhere, and many ended up coming to our school. This meant that multiple run-down portables had to be brought in to accommodate the extra students, which shrunk our PE field (it became a PE lawn). We had overcrowded classes. We had students who were behind who needed services that weren’t available at our school. We had angry, traumatized students who lost many of their friends and their school. They didn’t want to be at our school, and who could blame them? I wouldn’t want to be in 4th grade and pulled from the only school I knew.

Their parents were also upset and didn’t want their children at a new school, and many of them shared that concern widely. Some of the children from the closed school ended up transferring out at the end of the year, which caused even more disruption.

Our school’s letter grade dropped to a B, and then to a C. Our administration and teachers were under a tremendous amount of pressure from our district to bring our school grade back up. All of our students felt that stress and pressure too. Our school, which never really needed to do much test prep before, became more focused on preparing for the FSA in order to increase the school grade. The whole culture of the school shifted.

This is just one way that closing schools impacts the entire community. The students have to go somewhere. They will either end up flooding and overcrowding another public school or heading to a charter or private/voucher school. Charters and private schools may not continue to enroll them if they need services or have behavior problems. The sometimes don’t provide transportation, or don’t accept students based on a variety of factors. Some charter schools have also been known to make families whose students score low on the FSA uncomfortable and encourage them to leave.

Have our legislators thought through the ramifications of what this bill will do to the community they supposedly represent? Or, have they thought it through and they just don’t care?

Intentional disruption of a child’s educational environment for the sake of profit and real estate acquisition is unacceptable. Wake up Florida. It’s time to take our public schools back.

Sincerely,

An anonymous public school parent in Florida

Contact your legislators today, and tell them that you oppose HB 7079 because you value our public school system and want our schools to thrive rather than close.


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