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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

  • Help end world hunger
  • Saturday, March 05, 2011

    Orange County, FL Focus


    Newly elected Florida Governor Rick Scott has unveiled his plan for public education and it is not friendly to school employees or public education in general. The plan has many devastating components. The first being the proposed voucher program that would most likely be for $5,500, the average state per-pupil contribution to public school students. This will have devastating effects on the funding provided to public schools. The money would be placed in an education account where it can be accessed by parents to use for private schools, virtual schools or tutoring.

    This critical money is currently given directly to public schools but, under Scott’s proposal, would go to wealthy families that currently pay for their children’s private education and to parents who homeschool their children. These parents may chose to bank that money for college while public schools will suffer dramatically from this loss of funding. Most private schools such as Trinity Prep in Winter Park cost more than $5500. Tuition for the 2010-2011 school year is $16,200. This clearly illustrates that vouchers in many cases will serve as tax paid subsidies for wealthy families to send their kids to top private schools.

    This is all being done without discussing any of the research that shows that school vouchers do not work. A 2009 study mandated by Congress showed that students who used vouchers to attend private schools did not perform better than those who stayed in public schools. Education historian Diane Ravitch states that "The real danger is that he sends a signal that it's politically fine to attack public education, which has been one of our most valued institutions and a bulwark of our democracy."

    Critics fear this will also create a system ripe for fraud. Not only is there concern about handing this money over to homeschooling and private schools that are not held to the same standards of accountability as public schools, there will also be fly by night operations trying to make a quick dollar. Milwaukee has had a voucher program for years. Unfortunately, they have also had several high profile incidents of individuals or corporations opening schools and collecting money only to quickly close or provide little if any education. How does Scott plan to accomplish his education vision? Tax cuts of course! Scott wants to increase taxpayer funded vouchers, charter schools, homeschooling and online education. At the same time, Scott wants to trim $1.4 billion in property taxes for schools and cut up to $700 million more in corporate income taxes — a main vehicle to fund a state educational voucher program. The math doesn’t add up and the bottom line is that public schools will lose!

    Scott claims he wants to give students and parents more power and more voice in education. How about giving education experts – the teachers! – more power and more voice? Scott proposes to allow parents to trigger a school turnaround by a simple majority vote. A supposedly “failing” school could be turned upside down by parents resulting in the removal of teachers and staff among other significant changes in working conditions.

    The list of damaging components also includes areas like collective bargaining, job security, evaluations and retirement. Scott proposes to reduce collective bargaining only to wages and salaries. He states teacher evaluation should be excluded from the bargaining process and determined by school boards and administrators with “input” from teachers. He also believes that whatever that evaluation system looks like, 50% of the evaluation must be based of student performance, i.e. test scores.

    Scott also endorses a new teacher contract system. He proposes the continued use of annual contracts for new teachers while offering continuing contracts of no longer than 3 years to even the most experienced and veteran teachers. He states that he wants to also make it easier remove ineffective teachers. This is code for reducing or eliminating due process which in turn reduces job security for education employees. School Districts can currently remove employees by simply following due process and the existing evaluation system, but Scott wants to reinvent the wheel!

    There are devastating compensation recommendations as well. Scott wants to create a performance-based salary system which means a teacher’s pay will be based in some fashion on the performance of their students. He also suggests teachers can trade away their “tenure” or job security for a higher salary. This was a big component of Michelle Rhee’s plan in Washington DC who just happens to be on Scott’s education team.

    Education employee’s pension under FRS could be dramatically altered. Scott proposes changing FRS from a defined benefit pension to a defined contribution plan similar to a 401K. This puts your retirement at the whim of the stock market. A guaranteed monthly pension payment in retirement is much more secure.

    These are just a few of the troubling and devastating components of Rick Scott’s education plan. Please urge people to get involved in the process. Please get active in CTA and if you are not already a member please, join now! We need to stand up and be united! Public education hangs in the balance.

    From the Democratic Party of Orange County, FL:

    Green Jobs Innovation Fund - $40 Million

    The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the Green Jobs Innovation Fund competition to support opportunities for workers to receive job training in green industry sectors and occupations. Through this competition, the department will award approximately $40 million to support five to eight grantees with awards ranging from $5 million to $8 million each. Eligible applicants will include national and statewide organizations with local affiliates that have existing career training programs and will benefit a minimum of six communities per grant.

    These funds will enable training providers to develop programs that incorporate green career pathways by forging linkages between Registered Apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, and/or integrating the delivery of technical and basic skills training through community-based partnerships. The grants are tied to the Labor Department's vision of increasing the number of individuals completing training programs with industry-recognized credentials and increasing the number of individuals completing training programs for employment in green jobs.

    In addition, grant information is posted at http://www.doleta.gov/grants. Thank you.

    Please see the PDF document here .

    Current TV, founded by Al Gore, includes some of the best journalism in America today. In particular their Vanguard series is amazing and should not be missed by ANYONE who wants to know in depth coverage of some of the major stories in the world.

    In Orange County Current TV is available on:
    DIRECTV Channel 358
    DISH Network Channel 196
    Comcast Digital: Channel 107
    AT&T U-Verse: Channel 189

    Check out their program schedule here.


    Here's an important event coming up:

    Walk MS: Orlando 2011
    When: March 19th, 2011
    Where: Lake Eola at Thornton Park
    Corner of N Eola Dr and Robinson Ave
    Orlando, FL 32801
    Time: 8:00 am to 12:00 pm
    Check-in begins at 8:00 am; kick-off is 9:00 am

    Routes: Short Route: 1 Mile
    Long Route: 2.34 Miles

    Email: bill.conway@nmss.org
    Phone: 813-889-8363 ext. 203

    click here for more info

    Recurring Events:

    Orange County Democratic Party
    Attend our monthly meetings held on the 3rd Monday of each month at 7 pm
    Check our calendar for the meeting location.

    Come enjoy good company, good discussions and some solidly liberal politics over pints of beer.
    * Every Wednesday, 6:00 pm onward
    * Johnny's Fillin' Station, 2706 S Ferncreek Ave (NE corner of Michigan and Fern Creek)
    * Hosted by Dan Hill, orlando (at) drinkingliberally.or

    Young Democrats "Speak Easy" Social
    Monthly series of casual socials featuring a short speech by a prominent Democrat followed by a social hour--a different speaker every month. Held on the second Friday of each month at a location to be announced. Check the calendar for further details.

    Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. From the ballot box to the classroom, the thousands of dedicated workers, organizers, leaders and members who make up the NAACP continue to fight for social justice for all Americans.

    Here is a local Orlando area branch of the NAACP:

    Orange County (Orlando) NAACP
    PO BOX 618285
    Orlando, FL 32861

    Orange County - Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida on Facebook

    Seems to be getting up and running, so you can get involved early in their efforts.

    For more info call: 407-484-2814

    Get involved with the Orange County Democratic Party:

    Attend our monthly meetings held on the 3rd Monday of each month at 7 pm. Check our calendar for the meeting location.

    Go here to volunteer...we need your help to win!

    En Espanol

    Become a Precinct Captain - Organize a precinct, your own or one very close to you, for the upcoming Election. You can make the job easier by recruiting Neighborhood Leaders in the precinct. They will be responsible for specific lists of voters close to their homes until the Election Day. Just click here and check the Precinct Captain box below!

    Become a Neighborhood Leader - You get your own short list of Democratic voters in your neighborhood who sometimes forget to vote and work with and encourage them until November to either go to the polls or vote by mail! It's an opportunity to make new friends! It's fun and easy, close to home, and you'll be doing a great service for your country! Just click here and check the Neighborhood Leader box!

    Young Democrats "Speak Easy" Social - Monthly series of casual socials featuring a short speech by a prominent Democrat followed by a social hour--a different speaker every month. Held on the second Friday of each month at a location to be announced. Check the calendar for further details.

    Attend our occasional social events, held at various establishments around the County. It's a great opportunity to socialize with like-minded folks, make new friends, and reconnect with old friends. Check the calendar for further details.

    Donate to the party by contributing online or by sending a check by mail:
    Payable to: OCDEC
    P. O. Box 1648
    Orlando, FL 32802-1648

    The Center Orlando
    The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Central Florida has been in operation for over 32 years. GLBT individuals, family and friends, in Central Florida have stood up to both institutional and individual injustice and discrimination by volunteering their time, money and talents at The Center.

    946 North Mills Ave
    Orlando, FL 32803
    407) 228-8272

    Our Services:
    HIV Testing
    Social & Support Groups
    Mental Health Counseling
    12 Step Programs
    GLBT Library
    Cyber Center

    Central Florida for Democracy
    An exceptional group of activists. Enjoy lively, intelligent, sometimes provocative discussions.

    Central Florida for Democracy (CFFD) is a Democracy for America (DFA) Coalition Group working to restore and protect a robust democracy on the local, state, and national level. We support socially progressive, fiscally responsible candidates who will uphold the progressive principles of social and economic justice for all.

    We have been meeting, first as Central Florida for Dean and now as Central Florida for Democracy, since April 2003. We have members in Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake Counties.



    As the official arm of the Democratic Party, we strive to further Democratic ideals and principles while encouraging the involvement of young people in civic and political affairs.In the coming year, the Orange County Young Democrats will be participating in community volunteer events and performing acts of philanthropy right here in Central Florida. At the same time, we will be creating social functions and activities, like our monthly Speakeasies. These events provide our members the opportunity to meet and mingle with Democratic candidates, elected officials, as well as Labor and community leaders. Through these events, we look to energize our membership and promote the involvement of young Democrats, shaping our members into the leaders of tomorrow.

    Please sign up for our email updates or join us on Facebook and Twitter, as we continue to build our online social network. We cannot achieve any of our goals without your support and involvement. Whether you are 18 to 40 years of age, or a "Young at Heart" Democrat, we encourage you to sign up, attend our events, and get involved. As we build on our successes, it is our wish that our membership swells with Young Democrats who believe that together we can truly make a difference in shaping our world.

    To find out more about how you can get involved please explore this website, or feel free to contact me at (407) 760-7021.

    Orange County Democratic Black Caucus
    The Democratic Black Caucus of Florida was established in 1983, to unite and increase the political power for Black Democrats who went unnoticed. The Caucus is an integral part of the Florida Democratic Party’s infrastructure, which unites talent with opportunity to facilitate voter building through educational forums effecting voter registration drives (EVRD), get out the vote (GOTV), voter action network (VAN), vote by mail (VBM), and support qualified candidates approved by the Black Caucus. The Orange County Chapter was founded, by , in and its current President is Christopher Johnson.

    Click here to volunteer.

    GREEN BUSINESSES IN THE ORLANDO AREA: These are some of the best local businesses around. Taken from the Green America Green Pages

    Dandelion Communitea Cafe
    Award-winning organic and vegetarian cuisine and tea. Local art, music, and events in a charming bungalow house. Outdoor patio overlooking a medicinal community garden.
    Phone: (407)362-1864
    618 N. Thornton Ave.
    Orlando, FL 32803

    Ten Thousand Villages
    Provides vital, fair income to third world people by marketing their handicrafts and telling their stories in North America.
    Phone: (407)644-8464
    Fax: (407)644-5664
    346 N. Park Ave.
    Winter Park, FL 32789

    Organic Bouquet Inc.
    A premier online source for socially and environmentally responsible gifts, offering fresh certified organic flowers, organic gift-packed fruits, organic gourmet gift baskets, organic chocolates, and more.
    Phone: (407)754-3228
    Fax: (407)641-9932
    555 Winderley Place
    Ste. 129
    Maitland, FL 32751

    Jolly Green Planet
    Your source for a toxic-free environmentally friendly lawn. A green lawn is possible without jeopardizing health.
    Phone: (407)366-7071
    5415 Lake Howell Rd.
    Ste. 136
    Winter Park, FL 32792

    L.M.S. Associates
    "Not your grandmother's insurance!" Innovative benefit plans including Health Savings Accounts for flexibility and lower costs. Individual and group life.
    Phone: (407)629-4108
    Fax: (407)629-4247
    P.O. Box 948094
    Maitland, FL 32794-8094



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