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February 2016

How the Passage of House Bill 873 Would Affect Our Schools and Your Local Property Taxes

Say no to hb 873

It's not always best to multitask but there are so many pressing issues at play that affect our daily lives that we must find a way to effectively address them or prepare ourselves for the ghastly aftermath. The Florida Legislature will deal with HB873 very soon. You should know that passage of the proposed legislation will continue the decimation of public education AND adversely affect disposable income of taxpayers. 

Please pay attention to this message from the Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs/PTSAs. Call, email and tweet the legislators listed below. Ask them to vote NO on HB873. Thank You.

~ Va-Va 


How the Passage of House Bill 873 Would Affect Our Schools and Your Local Property Taxes

FEBRUARY 29, 2016
If passed by the Florida Legislature, House Bill 873 (Education Funding), sponsored by Miami-Dade's own Representative Manny Diaz, Jr. and co-sponsored by fellow Dade Delegation member Representative Erik Fresen, will dramatically affect what happens to the property taxes you pay for building, renovating, and maintaining local school district facilities. An amendment to the bill, filed by Representative Fresen and approved by the House Appropriations Committee, requires school districts to share a portion of these local taxes with privately-operated charter schools.
Over the past few years, charter schools have consistently received more state funding for capital outlay than traditional public schools. In both 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, for example, charter schools were allocated $55 million in state PECO (Public Education Capital Outlay) funds, while traditional public schools received $0. In 2013-2014, charters were allocated $90.6 million, and traditional public schools $6 million. The totals in 2014-2015 were $75 million for charter schools and $53 million for district schools. This year, both charter schools and traditional public schools have each been allocated $50 million--despite the fact that district schools vastly outnumber charter schools.
Most of Florida's traditional public schools are well over 50 years old, and the long drought in state maintenance and construction funds has forced school districts to face a difficult choice: delay addressing basic needs, such as repairing and replacing roofs and air conditioning units, or raise local property taxes to cover necessary expenses.
If HB 873 passes, part of our local property tax dollars will be siphoned off to charter schools for the lease, construction, or improvement of privately-owned facilities. Remember that in too many instances where charter schools have closed, the public has been unsuccessful in recovering taxpayer dollars spent on capital improvements: the Associated Press has estimated the cumulative loss at $70 million.
We need to act NOW!
Please email, call, or tweet TODAY!
Ask House Speaker Crisafulli and your local Representative to VOTE NO on HB 873

Speaker Steve Crisafulli, 850-717-5000, @SteveCrisafulli

Rep. Joe Geller, 850-717-5100, @JoeGellerFL

Rep. Sharon Pritchett,, 850-717-5102, @staterepsharon

Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr.,
[email protected], 850-717-5103, @RepMannyDiazJr

Rep. Carlos Trujillo,, 850-717-5105, @RepCTrujillo

Rep. Barbara Watson,, 850-717-5107, @TeamRepWatson

Rep. Daphne Campbell,, 850-717-5108, @RepCampbell

Rep. Cynthia Stafford,
Rep. Jose Oliva,
[email protected], 850-717-5110, @RepJoseOliva

Rep. Bryan Avila,, 850-717-5111, @BryanAvilaFL

Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez., 850-717-5112, @JoseJavierJJR

Rep. David Richardson,, 850-717-5113, @david4florida

Rep. Erik Fresen,, 850-717-5114, @ErikFresenFL

Rep. Michael Bileca,, 850-717-5115, @mbileca

Rep. Jose Felix Diaz,
[email protected], 850-717-5116, @josefelixdiaz

Rep. Kionne McGhee,, 850-717-5117, @kionnemcghee

Rep. Frank Artiles,, 850-717-5118, @Artiles118

Rep. Jeanette Nuñez,, 850-717-5119, @RepJNunez

Rep. Holly Raschein,, 850-717-5120, @HollyRaschein

If you're not sure which House member represents you, please enter your address here.

Additional late breaking Education Bills update:
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed two omnibus education bills on 2/25, after attaching large amendments, sending the two bills to the Senate floor.
Senate Education Budget Committee Chair, Senator Don Gaetz, filed a 59-page, strike-all amendment to SB 524, which, while proposing measures to prevent charter school capital funding from flowing into private investors' pockets, also includes controversial issues like the "Best and Brightest" teacher bonus plan. SB 524 was previously a 3-page bill dealing with state university performance funding.
Senator Gaetz also filed an 85-page strike-all amendment to SB 1166 (Education Funding), with proposed revisions that include open enrollment for public school students (students can attend any school in the state that has availability) and high school athletics (opening public high school athletics to students who attend charter and some private schools).
We know that you are your student's best advocate. 

Nancy Lawther, VP of Advocacy and Legislation
Mindy Gould, Advocacy Chair
Eileen Segal, Legislation Chair
Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs/PTSAs


Early Voting begins In Miami-Dade County in the March 15 Presidential Preference Primary Election

Vote shutterstock_116724703

Today is the first day of Early Voting in the Presidential Preference Primary Election. See the dates, times and locations below. Get out and vote.  

From Miami-Dade County Elections: 


Why wait? Vote early!

Below are early voting schedules for upcoming elections.

Presidential Preference Primary Election - March 15, 2016

Mon. Tue. Wed. Thur. Fri. Sat. Sun.
7 a.m. -
3 p.m.
7 a.m. -
3 p.m.
7 a.m. -
3 p.m.
7 a.m. -
3 p.m.
7 a.m. -
3 p.m.
8 a.m. -
4 p.m.
8 a.m. -
4 p.m.
11 a.m.- 
7 p.m.
11 a.m. -
7 p.m.
11 a.m. -
7 p.m.
11 a.m. -
7 p.m.
11 a.m. -
7 p.m.
8 a.m. -
4 p.m.
8 a.m. -
4 p.m.
  • City of Miami - City Hall
    3500 Pan American Drive
    Miami, FL 33133
    (Entrance is located at the northeast side of the building - ADA entrance is through the front door of City Hall)
  • Coral Gables Branch Library
    3443 Segovia Street
    Coral Gables, FL 33134 
  • Coral Reef Branch Library
    9211 SW 152nd Street
    Miami, FL 33157
  • Elections Department
    (Main Office)
    2700 NW 87th Avenue 
    Doral, FL 33172 
  • Homestead Community Center
    (William F. "Bill" Dickinson Community Center)
    1601 N. Krome Avenue
    Homestead, FL 33030 
  • John F. Kennedy Library
    190 W 49th Street
    Hialeah, FL 33012
  • Kendall Branch Library
    9101 SW 97th Avenue 
    Miami, FL 33176 
  • Lemon City Library
    430 NE 61st Street
    Miami, FL 33137
  • Miami Beach City Hall
    1700 Convention Center Drive
    Miami Beach, FL 33139
  • Miami Lakes Community Center
    (Mary Collins Community Center)
    15151 NW 82nd Avenue
    Miami Lakes, FL 33016
  • Model City Library
    (Caleb Center)
    2211 NW 54th Street
    Miami, FL 33142
  • North Dade Regional Library
    2455 NW 183rd Street
    Miami Gardens, FL 33056
  • North Miami Public Library
    835 NE 132nd Street
    North Miami, FL 33161
  • North Shore Branch Library
    7501 Collins Avenue
    Miami Beach, FL 33141
  • Northeast Dade-Aventura Branch Library
    2930 Aventura Boulevard
    Aventura, FL 33180
  • South Dade Regional Library
    10750 SW 211th Street
    Cutler Bay, FL 33189
  • Stephen P. Clark Gov’t Center
    (Elections Branch Office)
    111 NW 1st Street (Lobby)
    Miami, FL 33128
  • West Dade Regional Library
    9445 SW 24th Street
    Miami, FL 33165
  • West End Regional Library
    10201 Hammocks Boulevard
    Miami, FL 33196
  • West Miami Community Center
    901 SW 62nd Avenue
    West Miami, FL 33144
If you cannot view PDF PDF files, you can download Acrobat Reader  for free from Adobe Systems, Inc. In order to use PDF files, you must have Acrobat installed on your computer.


Ankara Miami Presented Fifth Installment of Florida's Premier African Fashion Week

Traci Young-Byron, star of Lifetime’s Docu-Series “Step It Up” among honorees
Day 1 sm - VIP Meet & Greet - Evelyn O with Honorees - Desmond Alufohai & Traci Young-Byron
Ankara Miami VIP Meet & Greet - Evelyn O with Honorees - Desmond Alufohai and Traci Young-Byron.
MIAMI, FL - Fashion designers from around the world converged on South Florida to celebrate Africa’s regal silhouette and distinctive palate of playful colors and prints during Ankara Miami Week 2016, Florida’s Premier African Fashion Week. The fifth annual production of Ankara Miami Week was the best place to see the most innovative fashion brands from emerging and established designers from the African Diaspora.
In honor of Black History and Ankara Miami’s commitment to recognizing community leaders displaying their long-standing commitment to assisting emerging artists, Ankara Miami Week 2016 kicked off with a VIP Meet & Greet held at Macy’s AventuraMall where founder Evelyn O honored:
Mrs. Traci Young-Byron, Founder/Artistic Director of Young Contemporary Dance Theatre & star of Lifetime's Docu-Series "Step It Up" with the Service to the Arts & Education Award; and
Mr. Desmond Alufohai, International Trade Coordinator and Head of International Trade Promotion Unit for Miami-Dade County with the Cultural Arts Advocacy Award
In addition to the VIP Meet & Greet, an Emerging Designers Runway Showcase was held at Toyota of North Miami. Ankara Miami’s signature event, the established Designers Runway Showcase, which has outgrown its original host venue, was held at the lavish Gallery of Amazing Things where guests were treated to a special performance by Lisa Simone, daughter of the legendary Nina Simone. The highly anticipated Pop Up Shop, Ankara Delights by Evelyn O closed out the 5th installment of Ankara Miami Week.
Day 2 sm - Emerging Designers Showcase - Bijou Lakay (accessories from Haiti)
Emerging Designers Showcase - Bijou Lakay
Day 3 sm - Art of Hair Designer Natural Trendsetters (2)
Art of Hair Design - Natural Trendsetters
Day 3 sm - Feature Designer Wamuiru Couture with models
Featured Designer Wamuiru Couture with models
Day 3 sm - Lisa Simone (Nina Simone's daughter)
Special performance by Lisa Simone, daughter of Nina Simone

Celebrating the Birthday of Bea Hines and the Birth of Miami's Black Scribes


Miami's Black Scribes
Miami's Black Scribes celebrate the birthday of Bea Hines. Seated, from left, Vennda-Rei Gibson; Julia Brown; Bea Hines. Standing, from left,  Maude Newbold; Dr. Dorothy Jenkins Fields; and Vanessa Woodard Byers. Not pictured - Linda Johnson and Andrea Robinson.

Last Thursday, a group of lovely ladies gathered at Soyka's in Midtown Miami to celebrate the birthday of local journalistic legend Bea Hines. The gathering, the brainchild of another legend and history maker, archivist and historian, Dr. Dororthy Jenkins Fields, was multi-purposed. Not only would Ms. Hines, the first Black female reporter at the Miami Herald be celebrated, but it would be the first gathering of a small group of local African-American women journalists and writers informally named --- Miami's Black Scribes.

The inaugural group of Miami's Black Scribes includes Dr. Dorothy Jenkins Fields; Julia Brown; Vanessa Woodard Byers; Vennda-Rei Gibson; Bea Hines; Linda Johnson; Maude Newbold; and Andrea Robinson.


Photo: Courtesy of Vanessa Woodard Byers


Alpha Kappa Alpha Presents Heart Health Expo-2, Saturday, Feb. 27

Akagzo heart health expo2

Enjoy a free, fun-filled day of Health at HEART HEALTH EXPO-2 presented by Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, 10am - 2pm, Saturday, 02/27/2016, Walmart, 3791 NW 167th Street, Miami Gardens, FL 33055. Bring your family and friends! To RSVP and for additional information, email [email protected].

FREE Citizenship Workshops in Miami Feb. 25 & 27


MIAMI – On February 25 and 27, Catholic Legal Services Archdiocese of Miami will help local green card holders take the first step towards becoming citizens through two free events as part of the New Americans Campaign.

These workshops will provide lawful permanent residents with free naturalization application assistance by professional and trained volunteers. Individuals will also receive legal counsel by probono attorneys and legal experts. Services are available in a multiple languages.

The New Americans Campaign is an innovative nonpartisan partnership with organizations like the Catholic Legal Services Archdiocese of Miami that seeks to help aspiring Americans overcome barriers to becoming citizens and achieve citizenship. Workshops like these show the local community that there is assistance available and that the New Americans Campaign is there to lend a helping hand through its network of partners and service providers.

WHAT: Free Citizenship Workshops 

Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 10:00 am through Citizenshipworks
Catholic Legal Services
25 SE 2nd Ave
Miami, FL 33131

Saturday, February 27, 2016 at 10:00 am
Miami Dade College - Kendall Campus, Room 402
11011 SW 104 Street
Miami, FL 33176

RSVP: Registration for the Citizenshipworks workshop on February 25 is not required. For more information about the workshop, please contact Raul Hernandez. Services are available in English and Spanish.

To register for the Catholic Legal Services Archdiocese of Miami workshop on February 27, click here. For more information, please contact Raul Hernandez. Services are available in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole.

Could Miami Palmetto alum Ketanji Brown Jackson be the next Supreme Court Justice?

Shortly after the announced death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, prominent Republicans declared President Obama should not appoint anyone to the seat and promised to block any persons nominated. It is sad and expected that Republicans and Republican presidential candidates would respond with obstructionist tactics as conservatives would lose their majority on the Supreme Court.
President Obama announced he would fulfill his constitutional responsibility and fill the seat. Several names have been mentioned as possible replacements including current Attorney General Loretta Lynch. In my humble opinion, the next Justice should be a Black female as that demographic group is not currently represented on the Supreme Court. That female should be Ketanji Brown Jackson whose name has circulated on the highly respected SCOTUSblog.
Ketanji Brown Jackson is a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  She was confirmed by without any Republican opposition in the Senate not once, but twice.  She was confirmed to her current position in 2013 by unanimous consent – that is, without any stated opposition.  She was also previously confirmed unanimously to a seat on the U.S. Sentencing Commission (where she became vice chair).
She is a young – but not too young (forty-five) – black woman.  Her credentials are impeccable.  She was a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School.  She clerked on the Supreme Court (for Justice Stephen Breyer) and had two other clerkships as well. As a lawyer before joining the Sentencing Commission, she had various jobs, including as a public defender.
Her family is impressive.  She is married to a surgeon and has two young daughters.  Her father is a retired lawyer and her mother a retired school principal.  Her brother was a police officer (in the unit that was the basis for the television show The Wire) and is now a law student, and she is related by marriage to Congressman (and Speaker of the House) Paul Ryan.
Jackson graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior in 1988. Her parents are former Miami-Dade County Public Schools School Board Attorney Johnny Brown and her mother, Ellery Brown, was principal of the prestigious New World School of the Arts.

According to SCOTUSblog publisher Tom Goldstein:
Judge Brown Jackson’s credentials would be even stronger if she were on the court of appeals rather than the district court and if she had been a judge for longer than three years. 
As a layperson, experience on the court of appeals rather than the district court is not significant. My lawyer friends might beg to differ. Goldstein goes on indicate that in these special circumstances, past precedent might not be followed.


Va-va sig 75x39




TONIGHT: Important Miami Town Hall Meeting on Girls of Color and School Resource Officers

Goc sros

A critical town hall meeting will be held this evening regarding the treatment of girls of color by school resource officers (SROs). Too many of us have already forgotten the shocking video of SRO Ben Fields body-slamming a black female student to the floor at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, SC last year.  Incidents such as this happen to Black girls and Latinas more than many of us realize. We focus on boys but let’s not forget the girls. Don’t miss this important conversation with Dr. Monique W. Morris, educator and author of PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools.

Monique Morris PUSHOUT
Monique W. Morris, EdD



This activity is presented by the Georgetown University Center on Poverty and Inequality and the National Black Women's Justice Institute. Parents, students, teachers, school resource officers and other interested individuals are encouraged to attend. Click here to RSVP.




Florida's Presidential Preference Primary is right around the corner --- March 15, 2016. The Presidential Preference Primary allows voters to indicate which candidate they want to represent their party during the General Election in November. The outcome of Presidential Preference Primary determines how many delegates each party’s national convention will receive from Florida. These delegates select their party’s presidential nominee at each respective party’s national convention.

The deadline to register to vote in the Presidential Preference Primary is February 16, 2016. Be sure that you can voice your choice. Confirm your voting status and your voting precinct. If you are eligible to vote but are not registered, get registered TODAY! 

Please read the information below from the Miami-Dade County Elections website - 


Va-va sig 75x39



Florida is a Closed Primary State

Per Florida Law, only voters who are registered members of a political party may vote for their respective party's candidates in a primary election. Given the parties' candidates on the ballot, ONLY registered Republican and Democratic voters are eligible to vote in the March 15, 2016 Presidential Preference Primary Election.

In addition, ALL registered voters residing in the municipalities of Miami, Miami Beach and Surfside are eligible to vote on their municipal ballot content.

If you are not a registered Republican or Democratic party member OR a registered voter of the municipalities of Miami, Miami Beach, or Surfside, you are not eligible to vote in this election and may not receive a ballot.

You can check your current party affiliation online or by calling 3-1-1.


Who's Zooming Who?: Plans for Liberty Square Charter School Riles Black Community [WARNING: Adult Language]

Black man thinking

My high school classmate, DC Clark, also president of ICARE (Inner City Alumni for Responsibility Education) is stirring the pot this morning about Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s plans to build a charter school in the soon-to-be demolished and renovated Liberty Square Housing Project also known as the Pork ’n Beans. It seems the issue has become quite public and quite political since the Mayor reported the Sup to the ethics commission. You gotta love Miami.

Anywho, this is what DC wrote:

Are Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho fighting to see who can fuck the Black community the most?

Do you remember all the planning, preparation and anticipation you went through on Sunday in order to get ready for the Super Bowl? Well you better muster up the same kind of energy for this fight we have that is being played out right before our very eyes. From the looks of things we are being gashed with no Vasoline.

Fact: The new Liberty Square $250 million development project is destined to have a new Charter School placed right smack in the middle of it. It will be a K-12 school that will negatively affect the enrollment of Northwestern and Edison and their surrounding feeder patterns which includes Holmes, MLK, Allapattah and others. What will happen to those schools would be worse than what happened to Central once Turner Tech was placed literally in our backyard. It will also be the first leg of gentrification.

But wait, it gets worse. There is speculation that Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and the District was in on this plan all along. From the looks of things, they partnered up with the University of Miami to form a team by the name of Miami Waymark 2.0. That team was the third highest bidder and was recently eliminated from the process. Related Urban Development Group and Atlantic Pacific Communities are the two groups remaining in the Bidding process. Carvalho said his team signed his name to this bidding process and he had limited knowledge of it. Of course many people that I talked to think this is total bullshit.

The Miami Herald recently reported that after Miami Waymark 2.0 was eliminated, the Superintendent paid Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez a call and wrote him a letter which he, the Mayor, reported to the Ethics committee. A Cone of Silence was put into place so that participants of the bidding process could not openly discuss the bid. This is particularly troubling because it appears that District personnel reached out to ICARE to condemn the Charter school only after they were eliminated. If this is true, then they have some explaining to do.

Bottom line is it appears a K thru 12 Charter school will be placed right in the middle of the new Liberty Square development. It will have a negative affect on many of our schools that have been long standing institutions in our community. Many of those schools will face closing. This without any input from the community. Before ICARE renders it's final conclusion on this matter, we are demanding a copy of the letter sent to the Mayor by the Superintendent and we are also seeking the letter detailing the District's involvement in the bidding process. Both are public record and we expect to have them soon. In the meantime, we’ve got to get off our asses and let our voices be heard. Stay Tuned.

Wake up, family. Too many of us have been distracted by foolishness and intentionally misguided far too long. We have been sold out by folks who look like us. Some of us in positions of influence, hand-picked by the powers that be, have done little to nothing for the collective and only satisfied our individual desires for materialism that masks our insecurities. Nothing about this issue is really a surprise. Some folks, including Blacks, are sincerely ignorant of the damage they inflict upon the Black community while others are keenly aware and rely upon the ignorance and/or silence of others to accomplish their goals. Wake up. Stay woke. 


♥ Va-Va