Politics

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.


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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CALL TO ACTION: Turning Around Public Schools or Taking Away Public Schools?


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Turning Around Public Schools or Taking Away Public Schools?
 
The public school Turn Around bill (SB 1498), which would push privatization to new levels, advanced out of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education meeting today. As written, this bill would:
 
  • Throw a school district into instant turnaround status upon earning its first D or F grade (currently, a school would not face a turnaround model unless it receives two consecutive D’s or one F grade).
  • If a D or F turnaround school does not earn a C or better within one year, the Commissioner of Education may recommend closing the school, re-purpose it as a charter school, or assign it to an external operator.
  • Allows state universities or colleges to be considered as external operators, therefore bypassing school board authority.
  • Makes no provision to restore “turnaround” schools to the district.
  • Shortens the time allowed for school districts to help struggling schools.
  • Accelerates path to privatize or close low performing schools.
  • Robs districts of their constitutional authority to oversee their own schools.
  • Grants the Commissioner of Education new powers to deny district requests by closing schools.
 
In the words of a fifth grade public school student who testified in the committee meeting today, “My school grade doesn’t tell you the best parts about my school. My school has helped me grow as a student and as a person. If the state forces her school to close, her family will lose its education choice and her neighborhood will lose a place that brings people together.” We couldn’t agree more.
 
We need to unite our voices to save our public schools! Please contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee (the next and final committee stop) and tell them to amend Senate Bill 1498 by leaving school districts, particularly those that are “A” and “B” rated with a proven track record of improving schools, the full flexibility to improve school performance locally.
 
 
Chair Sen. Rob Bradley - 850.487.5055 - @Rob_Bradley - bradley.rob@flsenate.gov
 
V. Chair Sen. Wilton Simpson - 850.487.5010 - @WiltonSimpson - simpson.wilton@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Aaron Bean - 850.487-5004 - @AaronPBean - bean.aaron@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto - 850.487.5027 - @lizbethkb - benacquisto.lizbeth@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Lauren Book - 850.487.5032 - @Book4Senate - book.lauren@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Jeff Brandes - 850.487.5024 - @JeffreyBrandes - brandes.jeff@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Oscar Braynon, III - 850.487.5035 - @OscarJB2 - braynon.oscar@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Anitere Flores - 850.487.5039 - @anitere_flores - flores.anitere@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. George Gainer - 850.487.5002 - @senatorgainer - gainer.george@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Audrey Gibson - 850.487.5006 - @SenAudrey2eet - gibson.audrey@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Travis Hutson - 850.487.5007 - @TravisJHutson - hutson.travis@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Tom Lee - 850.487.5020 - @TomLeeFL - lee.tom@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Debbie Mayfield - 850.487.5017 - @debbie_mayfield - mayfield.debbie@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Bill Montford - 850.487.5003 - @BillMontford - montford.bill@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo - 850.487.5028 - @kathleen4swfl - passidomo.kathleen@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Bobby Powell - 850.487.5030 - @BobbyPowellJr - powell.bobby@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Darryl Rouson - 850.487.5019 - @darrylrouson - rouson.darryl@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. David Simmons - 850.487.5009 - @DSimmonsFL - simmons.david@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Kelli Stargel - 850.487.5022 - @kellistargel - stargel.kelli@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Linda Stewart - 850.487.5013 - @LindaStewartFL - stewart.linda@flsenate.gov
 
Sen. Perry Thurston, Jr. - 850.487.5033 - @SenatorThurston - thurston.perry@flsenate.gov
 
Please share this Alert!
 

Florida Democratic Party Continues to Expand Presence with Purchase of New Office in Tallahassee

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Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Democratic Party made a bold statement that they will be maintaining a permanent presence in Tallahassee with the purchase of a new office space.
 
The Florida Democratic Party announced the purchase of new office space for the party in Tallahassee. The space is situated in the heart of downtown Tallahassee in the Historic Exchange Bank Building, which is just blocks away from the Capitol. The new office address is 201 S. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301. 
 
Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party stated how the building will be a focal point for Democratic leaders in Florida:
 
“This is a bold new day for the Florida Democratic Party. With our outright purchase of an FDP office in Tallahassee we will have a permanent home that will serve as a hub for our current and upcoming Democratic leaders and a place where future generations of Florida Democrats can come together to grow our party and celebrate the values that unite us.”
 
While the party has maintained an office in Tallahassee for years, past locations were rented space. With the purchase of a building, the party will reduce overhead costs and solidify the party having a long term presence in the state capitol.
 
“Chair Rizzo is showing her commitment to building the Florida Democratic Party for the future and all of the Democratic legislative Leaders to come," said House Democratic Leader Designate Evan Jenne, "This investment by the Florida Democratic Party is an economically sound decision and shows we are working to continue to build our party and grow our power.”
 
In addition to the hiring of nearly 100 organizers this past June, a multi-million dollar investment in voter registration, and $2 million in outreach in communities of color, the new office is more evidence that the Florida Democratic Party is making strategic investments for 2020 and beyond.  
 
The new office was purchased outright by the Florida Democratic Party for $345,000, as a cash sale, and is indicative of their commitment to sound fiscal management and their use of resources to expand influence in the state. By owning vs. renting the Party expects to save more than $60,000 per year.
 

Urgent and Important Community Conversation: Let People Vote

Let People Vote Town Hall 7-29

Amendment 4 is one of the most significant Florida constitutional amendments in our lifetime. Florida voters overwhelmingly supported restoration of rights for some returning citizens, formerly convicted felons who had served their time and completed probation. 

Unfortunately, shortly after the 2018 General Election, it was clear newly-elected Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican-led 2019 Florida Legislature had other plans. So, the Florida Legislature successfully inserted obstacles to the restoration of rights for many Florida returning citizens. In some cases, there are fines and restitution that must be paid before restoration. There is also a possibility that financial obligations can be waived and there are other means of satisfying requirements for rights restoration. Get an update on Amendment 4 and voter rights restoration in Florida. Don’t miss this important community conversation. Spread the word.  

Conversationalists:
Rep. Kionne McGhee, Minority Leader, Florida House, District 117
Senator Annette Taddeo, Florida Senate, District 40
Rev. Dr. Alphonso Jackson, Sr., Senior Pastor, Second Baptist Church
Desmond Meade, Executive Director, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition
Carlos Martinez, Public Defender, Miami-Dade County
Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney, 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County

 

Let People Vote
Voting Rights Restoration Town Hall
6:30 PM Sharp
Monday, July 29, 2019
Second Baptist Church
11111 Pinkston Drive
Miami, FL 33176

For more information, call Juanita Olvera at (305) 256-6301.

 

@vanessawbyers

 

 


Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III vie for District 1 County Commission seat

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Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, broke local social media with the announcement of her run for the District 1 commission seat for Miami-Dade County (FL). She also garnered national attention from many media outlets as well as support from award-winning actress and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg from The View. Fulton’s decision disrupted plans of term-limited Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III and his supporters. Gilbert was perceived as a shoo-in for the seat held by Barbara Jordan for the last 16 years. Jordan is ineligible to run again as term-limits kick in for the first group of county commissioners.

Fulton, a former long-time county employee, gained international notoriety because of the fatal shooting of her younger son, Trayvon. Since that horrible incident, she has become a community advocate, author, public speaker, executive producer, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and received an honorary doctorate degree. Although this is Fulton’s first run for elected public office, she checks all the boxes that are most essential regarding electability criteria --- name recognition and likeability.

During his tenure as mayor, Gilbert has been faced with law enforcement, sexual harassment and personal controversies but he is also credited with the business growth of the City of Miami Gardens and the return of the historic Orange Blossom Classic football game. It is also noteworthy that Gilbert has amassed more than $400,000 between his campaign account and political committee. While he faces a formidable opponent in Sybrina Fulton, Gilbert is not likely to shrink into the background. This race will be a battle until the end. 

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Unfortunately, there are already signs that this race will likely be very negative. In social media exchanges, supporters of both candidates are trying to have the last word in a situation that will be decided by the voters of District 1 in August 2020. The public discourse is expected. Politics is a contact sport and Miami politics can be particularly dirty. Stay tuned; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 


Happy 93rd Birthday to the Honorable Carrie P. Meek!

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Happy Birthday to one of the true living legends of Florida history, the Honorable Carrie P. Meek!

 

The daughter of Willie and Carrie Pittman, Former Congresswoman Carrie Pittman Davis Meek was born on April 29, 1926, in Tallahassee, Florida. Her grandmother was born a slave in Georgia. Her parents began their married life as sharecroppers. Her father would later become a caretaker and her mother, a laundress and owner of a boarding house. The youngest of 12 children, Meek grew up in segregated Tallahassee, Florida. An honors student and track & field star athlete, she graduated from Florida A&M University (then Florida A&M College) in 1946 with a bachelor's degree in biology and physical education. At that time, Blacks were not allowed to attend graduate school in Florida. The state of Florida paid her graduate school tuition for her to go north to continue her studies. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1948 with a Master's degree in public health and physical education.

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Meek was hired to teach at Bethune-Cookman University (then Bethune-Cookman College) in Daytona Beach, Florida, and then later at her alma mater, Florida A&M University. She moved to Miami in 1961 where she served as a professor, administrator, and special assistant to the vice president of Miami Dade College, then Miami-Dade Community College. The school was desegregated in 1963. Meek played a central role in pushing for integration. Throughout her years as an educator, Meek was also active in community projects in the Miami area.

Meek was elected Florida state representative in 1978. She would go on to make history as the first Black female elected to the Florida State Senate in 1982. As a state senator, Meek served on the Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Her efforts in the legislature also led to the construction of thousands of affordable rental housing units.

In 1992, Meek was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida’s 17th Congressional District. This historic election made her the first black lawmaker to represent Florida in Congress since Reconstruction. Upon taking office, Meek faced the task of helping her district recover from Hurricane Andrew’s devastation. Her efforts helped to provide $100 million in federal assistance to rebuild Dade County. Successfully focusing her attention on issues such as economic development, health care, education and housing, Meek led legislation through Congress to improve Dade County’s transit system, airport and seaport; construct a new family and childcare center in North Dade County; and fund advanced aviation training programs at Miami-Dade Community College. Meek has also emerged as a strong advocate for senior citizens and Haitian immigrants.

Meek has received numerous awards and honors. She is the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degrees from the Florida A&M University, University of Miami,  Barry University, Florida Atlantic University and Rollins University. The Foundation that carries her name focuses on improving the lives of individuals in Miami-Dade County and throughout the broader community of  Florida.

We are delighted to join family and friends in celebrating the ninety-three years of awesomeness of the legendary Carrie Pittman Davis Meek and wish her many more.

[Biography adapted from The History Makers and U.S. House of Representatives History.]