FSU Launders Federal Money for pro-Bush PR

FSU center spent public money to tout feds' policies: A Florida State University center has used more than a half-million in education tax dollars to put a positive spin on President Bush's key school policies, including hiring a public relations firm to teach charter schools to be more media-savvy.

Of course, this also fits in with Governor Jeb's attack on Florida's public schools, so it's a double-bonus subsidy.

Since 2003, taxpayers have given the center $627,567 as part of a 5-year, $1.2 million federal grant made available through the No Child Left Behind Act, which promotes school choice as a fix for failing public schools.

The center's mission is to make parents aware of all choice programs, including traditional magnet schools, expand the number of choice schools in the state, and help them “work the media” — as was written in one of the PR firm's pamphlets.

But links on the center's Web site are almost entirely to studies and articles from conservative groups and strong school-choice proponents such as the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Center for Education Reform and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

Note the intellectual integrity demonstrated by the following paragraph. Would make any university proud!

For example, a link to private-school voucher articles includes nine entries that provide positive news on the voucher movement, but no mention of the problems in Florida's three programs that have allowed hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to be misused or stolen.

Despite conflicting studies on the success of charter schools and other alternative education programs, the School Choice Center at FSU touts them as ways to “increase student achievement, increase parental involvement, promote school improvement through constructive competition, and accomplish racial and ethnic diversity.”

But wait! There's more!

Another link on charter schools includes a Manhattan Institute study showing some academic success from charters, but nothing on how 12.5 percent of Florida's charter schools were given F grades last year, compared with 1.3 percent of the traditional public schools.

And PR begets PR.

The center also hired a Tallahassee public relations firm, Moore Consulting Group Inc., to help charter schools and private schools sell their product. The group was given $45,000 to create template advertisements for choice programs, hold workshops, and offer tips such as “Never lie” to editorial boards and “Never screw up on a slow news day.”

“Never lie.” Orwell was a piker.

(spotted via FlaBlog)

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