Billy Townsend: Segregation Factories in Florida (Part 3)
Blogger Billy Townsend has been writing a series about vouchers in his state of Florida, and part three just dropped with his thoughts about “how to shop in a Jeb Crow voucher marketplace built to cheat and grift and harm your child.” This installment is not short, but it paints a picture of what it’s really like to go shopping in the Florida voucher school marketplace. It’s reposted here from his substack Public Enemy Number 1 with permission .
The smartest way to shop for a voucher school is not to shop for one at all. There are very very few worth buying. This is why the education savings account (ESA) concept is doomed as anything but grift.
When Kelli Stargel dismantles your educational Publix this legislative session and gives you a dollar store debit card for educational groceries instead, it doesn’t mean the dollar store gets anything better on its shelves. The dollar store doesn’t have the capital or product development systems that Publix has built over decades. The dollar store doesn’t have supermarket capacity.
There is almost nothing worth buying today in the ESA dollar store; and there will be almost nothing worth buying in the future.
Opaque grift inflation is coming; I have a tool to help
Testing and mass 3rd grade retention and forced busing away from neighborhood-turned-magnet-or-charter schools will keep driving vulnerable kids away from the capital of public schools (and eroding education capital and capacity for everyone, including the rich).
And the same group of grifter garbage voucher providers will just take more money from you, the taxpayers, to cheat and harm and segregate the socially, economically, and educationally vulnerable. The grifters will be able to charge them — and thus you — more money with an ESA.
That’s Jeb Crow boiled down to its essence. As I said in part 2 of this series:
If you’re poor or desperate or a person of color, your general education voucher (FTC) or ESE voucher (McKay and Gardiner) or ESA is very unlikely to buy a school spot or educational service that is not an open, dangerous scam. There just aren’t enough spots with reputable private providers — not anywhere close. Also, the voucher don’t come close to covering the cost of the few “good” private schools.
You’re gonna end up in a segregated, hideously low-quality grifter school instead. And then you’ll float back to public schools, grifted if you’re lucky — abused if you’re not. See Kingdom Prep.
A beleaguered and intentionally test-wounded public system is still far superior and possesses far more capital than all Jeb Crow schools and most private schools. In part that’s because local communities want it that way — and routinely vote that way, even in Florida. And because the alternative is mostly unimaginable grifty garbage.
But if you feel you must shop for a voucher school, I feel I must try to help you avoid getting grifted and harmed. No one else is going to help — certainly not unelected state Voucher Superintendent Doug Tuthill or unelected Voucher School Board Step Up for Students (SUFS) or the Florida Department of Education.
Let the buyer beware
You are completely on your own when you shop for a voucher school — except for Billy. I have a very helpful color-coded spreadsheet tool that I will send to any Polk family for free to help. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If Step Up wasn’t an open grift of an organization, it would thank me for this consumer service I’ve performed to help its marketplace function better. If Step Up wasn’t an open grift of an organization, it would replicate this spreadsheet statewide and help parents read it. It would publish it as a navigation and purchase tool.
Instead, it’s about to make the already opaque and awful marketplace much harder to navigate. The state is about to kill individual and different voucher plans and collapse them into one giant cauldron of undifferentiated ESA grifter money.
You won’t be able to see which providers mix vouchers in the Step Up marketplace anymore — and use that as a quality indicator.
But you can use my spreadsheet of which providers do it now in Polk County — so you can avoid them in the future ESA griftopia, at least until they change their names.
The rest of this article explains how to read my spreadsheet.
Stay away from schools that mix types of vouchers. Unfortunately, almost all vouchers do; and ESAs will obliterate any difference completely
Start with this principle:
Taking all vouchers (McKay and Gardiner for disabilities/special needs; Florida Tax Credit and its offshoots for low income general education) is a giant red flag for any parent researching any voucher school. It should be a red flag for law enforcement and government, too.
Here’s what that looks like for a 100% black ESE student school that takes ESE vouchers while providing no ESE services — and remains branded in the Step Up for Students marketplace.