Outside money dominated local School Board race

All but $100 raised by Indian River Conservatives for Better Schools came from a national association at odds with the Florida Association of School Boards over vouchers.
All but $100 raised by Indian River Conservatives for Better Schools came from a national association at odds with the Florida Association of School Boards over vouchers.
NEWS ANALYSIS

MARK SCHUMANN

Karen Disney-Brombach
Karen Disney-Brombach
Shawn Frost
Shawn Frost
Laura Zorc
Laura Zorc

The Florida Federation for Children, an organization at odds with the Florida School Board Association over the FSBA’s position of school vouchers, targeted and defeated both FSBA president, Karen Disney-Brombach, of Indian River County and president-elected, Diane Smith, of Volusia County, in yesterday’s primary election.

The American Federation for Children, a Washington D.C. based pro-education choice group also entered the local fray, contributing $20,000 of the $20,100 raised by Indian River Conservatives for Better Schools. The group is headed by Laura Zorc, wife of County Commissioner Tim Zorc.

Across the state, the Florida Federation for Children has spent more than $400,000 to defeat incumbents like Brombach and Smith. The groups primary objective is to promote vouchers and to elect candidates opposed to national curriculum standards.

On its website today, AFC posted a story headlined, “FFC (Florida Federation for Children) congratulates last night’s Florida primary winners.

“The top two races involved current President of the FSBA executive committee, Karen Disney-Brombach (Indian River) and the incoming President, Diane Smith (Volusia). Their challengers, Shawn Frost and Melody Johnson, respectively, are opposed to the FSBA lawsuit and support giving children as many quality educational options as possible. Frost and Johnson defeated the incumbent board members, with Frost winning all 37 precincts. FFC invested in electioneering communications in both races,” the AFC reported.

Frost, a newcomer to local politics with some questionable residency qualifications, (See: Frost says he is living in garage apartment at his father’s house in District 1), defeated Brombach 54 percent to 46 percent. In addition to being helped by local, though nationally funded, attacks on Brombach, Frost was helped by a flood of additional attack mailers, all paid for by the Florida Federation for Children. More outside help came from individual contributors to Frost’s campaign. Some two thirds of the direct contributions to Frost’s campaign were from out-of-state donors.  In the reporting period ending August 18, Frost raised $6,340, $5,500 from out of state contributors, including several described as “venture capitalists.”

The AFC and the FFC made a similar investment in defeating Diane Smith of Volusia County.

n the reporting period ending August 18, Frost raised $6,340, $5,500 from out of state contributors, including several described as "venture capitalists."
In the reporting period ending August 18, Frost raised $6,340, $5,500 from out of state contributors, including several described as “venture capitalists.”

 

8 comments

  1. For all of us who do not want “outsiders” (whether Federal/State or special interest groups) to control our school system, this should be a wake-up call. Of course, it would be great if we voters question whether the information on these idiotic mailings is more than typical, political B.S.

  2. Particularly given the low voter turnout in yesterday’s election – just 16 percent – I wonder if the flood of negative mailers, most of them trashing candidates, is causing more and more people to choose to not participate in what has become a most undignified process.

  3. For those who have not been paying attention, the district scores are in freefall. We build a new middle school on overpriced land where children have to be bussed in from communities right next to existing schools, we give up a free land offer from Pointe West and build more portables at Citrus after building a new Vero Beach elementary which I suppose wasn’t big enough, we only hire superintendents who teach at Nova Southeastern (hopefully we can choose wisely outside of the fraternity). Dr. Adams moved all vice principals and swapped the High school and Middle school principals with little explanation and on top of all this, voluntary school boards in states like Maryland continue to get amazing results. You wouldn’t know much of this because for the life of me, the school board meetings appear to have disappeared from the school channel on TV. If outside money is needed to unseat entrenched incumbants then thanks for the help.

  4. It appears as though a formal election complaint will be filed in regard to Charlie Wilson. Hopefully, a citizen who supports integrity standards for our elected representatives will step forward now and do the same in regard to the Shawn Frost residency problem.

  5. The teachers and students of Volusia county lost their champion to the money shelled out by the FFC. Teachers and students across the county have lost their voices to someone who has never even attended a school board meeting. I guess money really can buy anything. Our children will be paying dearly for the next four years.

  6. In this election, it was not about “Party politics,” as a Press Journal report suggested. It was about single-issue politics.

    The Florida Federation for Children has, the Tampa-based PAC that dominated the messaging in the Brombach-Frost race, has also contributed heavily in Democratic primaries, always promoting candidates who will support further expansion of the state’s corporate tax credit/voucher program.

    This year, Florida’s voucher program with divert $357.8 million in tax money to send some 69,000 students to private schools. The program is a boon to private schools, but it does nothing to help find the answer upon which American future depends – “How can education outcomes be improved in public schools?”

    The Florida School Board Association is certainly not controlled by the teacher’s unions, yet the group’s leaders have grave concerns about the long-term negative consequences of a greatly expanded voucher program.

    As respected businessman and education advocate, Jamie Vollmer, argues in “Schools Can’t Do It Alone,” we will all sink or swim together. America will not be able to compete effectively in the new global economy unless a far greater percentage of our population is well educated. Providing quality private schools and charter schools to serve only a fraction of the nation’s student population is not the answer, at least it is not the only answer. The solution is not to abandon public schools, but to work to reform them, with the singular objective of improving education outcomes for the sake of the next generation – even if and when that means challenging the teachers’ unions.

    Locally, the Learning Alliance is working, not to establish alternatives to public schools, but to help and support teachers and administrators achieve the ambitious objective of enabling 90 percent of Indian River County’s third graders to read at grade level by 2016. This is just the kind of bold, collaborative, community-wide effort that can make a real difference in the lives of thousands of school children. And they, the children, are what this is, or should be all about.

    Economic development and economic justice play a role as well. A single mother working two minimum wage jobs to support herself and her children simply does not have time or energy left to read to her children. Why there are so many single-parent households is another issue. As Mr. Vollmer said, “Schools Can’t Do It Alone.”

  7. I do not think the school board is solely responsible for the problems in Indian River County. It has been my experience that there are problems with the curriculum,cronyism and underutilized programs, particularly at a middle school level. Although Storm Grove was expensive it is a great school. The principal from Storm Grove was transferred to the high school. It has been my experience that he is more effective and communicative than the principal who was transferred to Oslo. $20,000 of Tampa based PAC money swayed the school board election. That is not “local control”.

  8. $20,000 came from the national PAC – American Federation for Children. Far more than $20,000 was spend directly by the Tampa-based Florida Federation for Children.

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