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February 2020

March 2020

Coalition of Florida Organizations Urge Need for Equity in Accountability Policy

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Joint Press Release on behalf of 20 Florida organizations on the urgent need for equity in accountability policy

 

All children, including Florida’s quarter-million English learners, deserve schools with policies that help them to achieve their highest potential. Forcing children to experience repeated failure on high-stakes tests in a language they don’t understand causes students to feel incompetent and less likely to try. It robs them of their hope, steals their opportunity to achieve the American dream, and drives children away from school. Policymakers, teacher preparation institutions, and instructional leaders are left with inaccurate test results as the only data to guide their planning.

 

We are disappointed that the 2020 Florida Legislature did not heed the requests of the public or the leadership of the bipartisan and diverse group of sponsors and cosponsors of native language assessment bills. These bills would have required the Florida Department of Education to provide state content assessments in languages that students understand. We request that all newspapers and other organizations conducting interviews for this fall’s elections ask candidates for state office to declare their position on this issue. Voters deserve to know what to expect from those who seek their support.  

 

We are confident state policymakers will not continue to block schools from doing right by 10 percent of our students. We will be back in 2021 to ask the governor and legislators to give them tests in a language they can understand. Our students deserve legislative outcomes that advance equity and policies that produce improved outcomes for ALL students. Anything short of this fails our students.

 

Save their hope, help them dream, let them show what they can do.

 

Mari Corugedo

LULAC Florida State Director

mcorugedo@lulacflorida.org

 

Zelalem Adefris

VP of Policy & Advocacy

Catalyst Miami

 

Juana Brown
RCMA Director of Charter Schools
RCMA – Redlands Christian Migrant Association

 

Arlene Costello, Ed.D.

President

Sunshine State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (SSTESOL) of Florida

 

Maria R. Coady, Ph.D.

President

Florida Association for Bilingual Education (FABE, fabefl.org)

 

Neyissa Desir

Outreach Paralegal

Southern Poverty Law Center

 

Manuel Hartman

President

South Florida LCLAA Chapter.

 

Carla Huck, Ed.M.

President

SWFL TESOL

 

Linda Kearschner

President

Florida Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

 

Sadaf Knight

CEO

Florida Policy Institute

 

James Lopez

Executive Director

Power U Center for Social Change, Miami

 

Gepsie M. Metellus

Executive Director

Sant La, Haitian Neighborhood Center, Inc.

 

President Adora Obi Nweze

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) 

NAACP FL State Conference

 

Kathleen Oropeza

Founder

Fund Education Now https://fundeducationnow.org/  

 

Carmen R. Pedrogo

President

The National Conference of Puerto Rican Women (NACOPRW)-Miami Chapter

 

Maria Rodriguez

Executive Director 

Florida Immigrant Coalition 


Kira Romero-Craft

Managing Attorney

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

 

Debbie Soto

President of the Board

Organize Florida 

 

Marcos Vilar

Executive Director

Alianza for Progress

 

Marisol Zenteno

President

League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County 

 


The ‘Tammy Jackson Act’ One Step Closer to Becoming Law

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The bill ensures protections for pregnant incarcerated women and their babies 

 

Tallahassee, FL — Today, the Tammy Jackson Act (SB 852, titled Restrictive Housing for Incarcerated Pregnant Women) by Senator Jason Pizzo (D-West Park) passed the Florida Senate. With newly amended language, the bill now needs one final House vote before being sent to the Governor’s desk. On the House side, HB 1259 was co-introduced by Representatives Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) and Amy Mercado (D-Orlando) and the bill has passed unanimously in all committees and both chambers.  

The Tammy Jackson Act ensures that pregnant incarcerated women are transported to an appropriate medical facility without delay, given proper medical care, and not placed in restrictive housing involuntarily while in labor. The legislation also sets critical standards for the treatment of pregnant incarcerated women by aiming to create a safer, more respectful environment for women behind bars. 

The Dignity Coalition, a grassroots effort led by formerly incarcerated women and supported by several community organizations in Florida, works to advance the rights of incarcerated women and girls in Florida. Just last year, the Coalition won the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, a bill to ensure that incarcerated women have access to hygiene products. Passing the Tammy Jackson Act was a team effort, led in large part by Valencia Gunder, a community activist and formerly incarcerated woman herself who also serves as Campaign Manager for Dignity Florida.

“We now need the Florida House to act one more time with a final vote, to send this bill to the Governor’s desk and do right by our incarcerated women and babies,” said Valencia Gunder, Campaign Director for Dignity Florida and the New Florida Majority. “Our women are more than prisoners; they are mothers, nurturers, and caregivers and it is time they are treated as such, with dignity, respect, and humanity. The future is female, she’s strong, she’s Black, she’s Brown and she will not be incarcerated.”

No pregnant woman should ever be put in solitary confinement; it is inhumane, unsafe and cruel, both for the mother and her child. Currently, Florida has the second-highest incarceration rate for women in the United States, and yet, women’s basic needs and rights are not being met or respected. Ensuring that incarcerated people, including those who are pregnant, are safe, healthy and treated with dignity, especially during labor, is the responsibility of the state.


‘Tammy Jackson Act’ Unanimously Passes the Florida State House

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The bill ensures protections for pregnant incarcerated women and their babies 

 

Tallahassee, FL — Today, the Tammy Jackson Act (HB 1259, titled Restrictive Housing for Incarcerated Pregnant Women) by Representatives Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) and Amy Mercado (D-Orlando) was unanimously approved by the Florida House of Representatives. On the Senate side, companion bill SB 852 filed by Senator Jason Pizzo (D-Miami) is ready to be heard on the Senate floor. Though the House’s approval is a critical step forward, SB 852 provides stronger protections for incarcerated pregnant women by comparison. 

 

The Tammy Jackson Act ensures that pregnant incarcerated women are transported to an appropriate medical facility without delay, given proper medical care, and not placed in restrictive housing involuntarily while in labor. The legislation also sets critical standards for the treatment of pregnant incarcerated women by aiming to create a safer, more respectful environment for women behind bars.

 

“Just the news of this bill passing starts to restore the dignity and hope for women and girls -   including juveniles - incarcerated in Florida. Today's action of our state legislators is an example of us moving towards a more equitable Florida,” said Valencia Gunder, Campaign Director for Dignity Florida and the New Florida Majority. “Our women are more than prisoners; they are mothers, nurturers, and caregivers and it is time they are treated as such, with dignity, respect, and humanity. The future is female, she’s strong, she’s Black, she’s Brown and she will not be incarcerated.”

 

No pregnant woman should ever be put in solitary confinement; it is inhumane, unsafe and cruel, both for the mother and her child. Currently, Florida has the second-highest incarceration rate for women in the United States, and yet, women’s basic needs and rights are not being met or respected. 

 

Ensuring that incarcerated people, including those who are pregnant, are safe, healthy and treated with dignity, especially during labor, is the responsibility of the state.


Grand Lucayan Sold

 

By Robyn Adderley

 

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – The Government of The Bahamas sold the Grand Lucayan on Monday, March 2, 2020 to a partnership between Royal Caribbean International and ITM (Bahamas Port Investments Ltd.), which is expected to make a $250 million investment between the hotel and the redevelopment of the cruise port. 

 

The Heads of Agreement Signing Ceremony was held on the Great Lawn of the property, some 11 months following the signing of the Letter of Intent on Wednesday, March 27, 2019.

 

Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis described the day as a wonderful one, as the government’s intention was never to hold on to the   property, but initially purchased it to save jobs of Grand Bahamians and businesses. 

 

“As we stated at the time, it was our intention to privatize the property as quickly as possible. We wanted to ensure that we found the right buyer who shared our vision for the renewal of Grand Bahama. Our vision was the renewal and rebirth of Grand Bahama’s tourism sector and product as an essential element in the restoration of this island’s potential.

 

 

 

The Prime Minister also noted that discussions are currently ongoing to determine the best way to redevelop the Grand Bahama International Airport, which will require a major investment. 

 

Minister of Tourism & Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, said, “I am extremely excited that the intended purchasers of this hotel are Royal Caribbean and the ITM Group. Between them, they are well funded to bring to the table a great deal of experience in the tourism sector, and have a proven track record of successful projects.”

 

The development projected for the Grand Lucayan will bring about a total transformation of the resort. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be invested into the property to refurbish/renovate/reconstruct 500 rooms in Phase One and another 500 rooms along with 500 villas in Phase Two. Additional features will include a new casino, a spectacular water theme park and a new shopping, restaurant and retail center. In addition, a new cruise port will be built in the Freeport Harbour to accommodate three ships in Phase One and up to seven ships in subsequent phases. As a result of the purchase, 3,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created in construction as well as in employment at the hotel and cruise port.

 

Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson, gave welcome remarks. Also giving remarks were Robert Shamosh, Chief Executive Officer, Holistica Destinations; Mauricio Hamui, Chief Executive Officer, ITM; and Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. 

 

Also, in attendance were Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Peter Turnquest and other Ministers of Cabinet; Members of Parliament, Permanent Secretaries, Senior Government Officials, representatives from the business community, taxi drivers, and straw vendors.

 

Immediately following the official ceremony, guests were treated to the pulsating sounds of a Junkanoo Rushout followed by a reception. 

 

 

 

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SIGNING CEREMONY -- The Government of The Bahamas and Bahamas Port Investments Ltd. signed a Heads of Agreement with respect to purchase of the Grand Lucayan today, March 2, 2020. Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis (standing, second right) said the multi-million dollar investment "will go a long way in revitalizing Grand Bahama, with myriad economic and employment opportunities for more Grand Bahamians." Seated at left are Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley (left) and CEO of ITM Mauricio Hamui, representing the Developer; and at right, Secretary to the Cabinet Camille Johnson (second right) and Director of Investments Candia Ferguson. Standing from left: Minister Iram Lewis, Minister of State Kwasi Thompson, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, and Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar. (BIS Photo/Yontalay Bowe)

 


#WeAreTheVote Festival, Sunday, March 8 at Miramar Amphitheater

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The #WeAre Foundation is a new non-profit organization that uses the arts and artists to bridge the gaps between us, and connect our communities to our collective voice and vote. They’ve created a space for us to come together by holding a free #WeAreTheVote festival to attract and create awareness around the importance of civic engagement, and help empower as many people as possible to make their voice count at the polls.

 

The festival is scheduled for Sunday, March 8, 2020, Noon - 8 PM, at Miramar Regional Park Amphitheater, 16801 Miramar Parkway, Miramar, FL 33027. The community festival with live entertainment, food trucks, voter registration, music and activities will celebrate everyone who pledges to vote. 

 

The co-founder of #WeAre Foundation, BRANDON VICTOR DIXON, will be available to meet and greet the public. You remember Dixon because he played lawyer Terry Silver on POWER. His body of work includes his roles as Aaron Burr in HAMILTON on Broadway, and Judas in NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live.” 

 

Representatives from HeadCount and the WeAre Foundation will be available to answer questions about local voter registration requirements and assisting with voter registration on-the-spot.

 

“The growing divisions in our politics and social interactions inspired us to build an ecosystem of citizens and organizations that can remind us all that the more we fight for each other, the less we have to fight for ourselves,” said Dixon. “In 2020 we will demonstrate the connective power of the arts to help communities realize the power of their voice and collective vote!"

 

HeadCount is thrilled to partner with the #WeAre Foundation in 2020. This partnership epitomizes our mission, bringing artists, volunteers, and communities together in the pursuit of positive social change. Together, we will reach thousands of voters and get-out-the-vote in 2020.

 

 

 


FL Democrats Out Register FL Republicans

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The Florida Secretary of State has closed the books on voter registration for the 2020 Primary and, for the first time this cycle, there is an accurate read of voter registration numbers in Florida.
 
Democrats have added more voters to the rolls than Republicans in the 2020 election cycle.
 
In 2018 (as of the October 2018 book closing): Democrats had a 263,000 registration edge over Republicans in Florida.
 
In 2020 (as of book closing reported today): Democrats have a 280,000 registration edge over Republicans in Florida.
 
While Florida Democrats have added 17,000 more Democrats to the rolls than Republicans so far this cycle, Florida Democrats are also in the midst of a massive voter registration effort in the state.
 
  • Upon launching voter registration efforts in July of 2019, Democrats were registering 28 voters per day. 
  • In February 2020, the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) averaged 482 registrations per day
  • FDP is currently on pace to collect an additional 150,000 registrations before the start of the general election in August.  

 

 

Early voting has begun in Florida’s 2020 Presidential Preference Primary

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Early voting starts today and goes through Sunday, March 15, in the Florida Presidential Preference Primary. Florida is a closed primary state so only Democrats can vote for Democrats and only Republicans can vote for Republicans.

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At stake are the state’s 248 Democratic delegates, of which 29 are superdelegates. Donald Trump has opposition but none of them is a threat to him being the Republican nominee. 

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Voting actually began weeks ago with the mailing of vote-by-mail ballots. Since that time, many of the Democratic candidates have dropped out of the race. Uninformed voters are likely to waste their vote if they are not aware of each candidate’s status. 

 

UPDATE 1: Here is a markup of an actual Democratic ballot. These are the active Democratic candidates as of the posting of this article. Amy Klobuchar is suspending her campaign. More candidates are likely to drop out after tomorrow’s Super Tuesday contests. Be informed. Share this information with your family and friends. 

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