"As a third-grade teacher, I know firsthand the pressure our public school system is under. I also know the enormous potential for improvement and success it has -- given adequate, consistent funding and focus. The long campaign to privatize and profit from our public schools by conservative, religious and corporate special interests has to stop. We have to fight back and and battle to save our public system of equal access, academic standards, and accountability. The 2014 legislative session ended with with a last-minute "trick play" radically expanding privatization. The move was so questionable, it's being challenged in court. Enough is enough. It's time for a new way forward."
Alvarez hopes to take partisan politics out of what should be strictly a public policy debate. He will seek input and co-sponsorship for the bill from both sides of the aisle in the Florida Legislature. Input will also come from education and public policy experts statewide. Most important, concerned parents and grandparents of public school students will help shape the legislation, and fight for its passage.
Features of the Putting Public Schools First bill currently under consideration include but are not limited to:
· Repeal 2014 “trick play” privatization expansion law.
· Freeze voucher program at 2013 level pending review, except for special needs students.
· Two-year plan to get voucher and charter schools playing by same rules as public schools.
· Two-year plan to develop effective new curriculum/evaluation alternatives to “teaching to the test”.
· Two-year plan to replace teacher “merit pay” law with fair “Evaluation & Encouragement”
· Keep local school decision-making in hands of local communities.
· Innovative program development to help troubled students and schools without privatizing them.
A winner of the Excellence in Teaching award, John Paul Alvarez worked three jobs to put himself through college, get his teaching certification, and achieve his "American Dream" of helping people through education. In addition to teaching third grade in Hollywood, Florida, the heart of House District 100 where he also lives, John is a volunteer tutor for both children and adults. That frontline experience, combined with years of political and community activism and leadership, leads Alvarez to believe this ambitious effort can and will succeed:
"I'm under no illusions about how difficult this will be. The forces that have pushed privatization forward at the expense of our public school system have a huge war chest and plenty of political power. But when 'We The People', the public school teachers, staffs, parents, grandparents and students all stand together as one, we will win this battle to Put Public Schools First"