Ethical conduct is the moral glue that binds Americans to their government and ensures there is public trust and confidence in our representatives. The Sept. 8 Miami Herald article “Legislators who pushed takeover paid by charters” [originally reported by Jessica Bakeman of WLRN News] details a startling dissolution of ethics by State Rep. Manny Diaz and State Sen. Anitere Flores. Both took an oath to act in the best interest of their constituents. Instead, they are passing laws that directly benefit the industry in which they are earning higher salaries than most Americans.
According to the article, Rep. Diaz, who is also the chief operating officer of Doral College, sponsored the bill that created the charter school takeover of Jefferson County and then added $2 million to the effort. Doral College was then paid a fee by Somerset Academy which provides dual enrollment courses for charter schools in Jefferson County.
Sen. Flores wrote the original legislation that directly benefited Somerset Academy as it launched its charter school incursions into the state. She then went on to work for Doral College.
Unfortunately, budgeting is a zero-sum game: Funding self-enriching charter school deals result in under-funding public schools. That is why Miami-Dade had to put forth a local tax referendum asking voters to finance a much-deserved salary increase for its teachers. Meanwhile, all these efforts by our state legislators result in an inferior product while Dade’s public schools continue to be A-rated and nationally recognized.
As a community, we cannot become inured to these blatant conflicts of interest and money grabs that corrode our democratic institutions and produce a product that often lacks merit and oversight. Our children and our families deserve better.
Karla Hernandez Mats,
United Teachers of Dade,