West Palm Beach Charter On A Foundation Of Sand

As the city moves forward with many plans and spending money in support of the City’s first charter school without a final vote from the commission,  is a clear indication of a done deal and public input through public meetings was and is a farce.

Mayor Muoio and Commissioner Mitchell continue to profess a plan to help struggling and underachieving children, Ms. Mitchell has often stated. It has been a vision of hers for years but frankly, tax payers can’t afford any more of Mitchell’s visions. If her passions are such a good and sure thing, then private investment is always an option for her as It would be for the general public.

According to a February 25, 2006 Sun Sentinel article, written by Education Writer, Scott Travis, Commissioner Mitchell was touting the idea of opening a charter school somewhere in the city’s downtown, that would serve pre-kindergarten and elementary students and would be open to people who live and work downtown. The article states Commissioner Mitchell’s vision is to create a world class school that would be a selling point for prospective industries which is a far cry from embracing underachieving children.

In a commission meeting, on November 25, 2013, Michael Connelly, CEO of Mosaica Education, made a presentation before the mayor and commissioners in hopes of running the city’s charter school. He was chosen by the city’s selection committee. Towards the end of his presentation, Mr. Connelly made several insensitive remarks when asked about his success with minority children. He talked about grade levels and their progress saying, “the children are too naive to know that they’re stupid” and shortly after says. “they’re too little to know that they’re not very bright”. Mr. Connelly was asked further by a commissioner, about his success with minority students and he mentioned a class that did very well saying, “everyone was surprised because their faces were dark”. Mr. Connelly was not chosen and I’m not sure why but I’m sure It wasn’t because of his demeaning and racist remarks about the very children he was to serve because neither the mayor or any one of the five commissioners outwardly reacted or questioned him about his disturbing comments. A lack of reacting to comments that warrants a response from city leaders who represent the public, means the language is socially acceptable when directed at a certain segment of our citizenry and It’s wrong.

Now It’s easy to understand why the mayor didn’t show outrage over Mr. Connelly’s negative comments about children because she made an equivalent comment herself and showed no second thoughts or concern about what she said on  On August 13, 2014, during the mayor’s weekly media briefing.  A Palm Beach Post reporter asked the mayor about a question that was asked of her at the charter school town hall meeting held at Rybovich Village. A member of the public asked her if the city would consider having all underachieving children in their charter school. The mayor told the reporter it was the worse suggestion she’s heard. She further talked about struggling kids and how heterogeneous children learn better than homogeneous children and “putting all of the dummies in one place is not how kids learn“.

For any adult, especially an educator, to refer to “any” children as “dummies”, because they are struggling and academically challenged, for whatever reason, reflects poorly on that individual. For city commissioners, as representatives of the public, to have no outward reaction when a prospective director of the city’s charter school insults the very children they claim to be targeting to help, is appalling and raises questions about their ability to effectively respond to children and their educational needs. Tax payers should be all too familiar with this road we’ve been forced onto. Our last ride was also centered around an educational vision and also spearheaded by Kimberly Mitchell until we hit a deep pothole. The demise of that dream came quickly but not painless for tax payers. After the clear failure of FSU Digital Domain, costing tax payer’s millions, both Mayor Muoio and Commissioner Mitchell vowed to do It again. It’s not only foolish to publicly state you’d repeat a failure but fiscally irresponsible to utter such arrogance.

The opening date for the city’s charter school has been a moving target since the original opening date of August 2013 was announced. When the city’s school will open is anyone’s guess. The creeping up of “fly by night”  charter schools, siphoning tax money from traditional public schools, is a threat to our Democracy because they will eventually force traditional schools to close and once they are closed, they are not likely to re-open.

Without a doubt, WPB City Leaders have been mediocre Jack’s of all Trades and Masters of very little! The city should further lend a hand to assist our already established public school system and abandon the opening of a city run charter school . Children all over the country are realizing the threat of charter schools to traditional public education and are protesting to save their schools. It is past time for Palm Beach County teachers and students  to flood the public square and city chambers of city hall’s everywhere to stop the country wide heist of traditional public education.