Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

South Florida news media acts like they are STILL the Belle of the Ball. Nope!; Charlotte Greenbarg's contributions to South Florida

Much more so than I would've ever imagined when I first started this blog of mine four years ago -many years after I should've started it while living up in the D.C. area- I've been spending a lot more time thinking and writing about my perspective on the inherent problems of an incurious news media, a crew that in South Florida, at least, often seems more inclined to RUN FROM from news stories, than to them, and attempt to explain what happened and why to curious readers or viewers.

That regressive attitude towards traditional norms of news-gathering by local South Florida reporters, editors, producers and news executives, has very serious negative consequences for the larger society in South Florida, where many of the sorts of resources that other American communities take for granted, simply DONT exist here, like an All-News radio station
or a Local News cable TV channel.

Yes, media outlets that would offer daily or weekly forums for the community to talk about current events or news in an informed environment, and not merely parrot what one has heard or seen in print elsewhere, whether liberal or conservative.

But South Florida has neither of them.

In this sort of environment, lots of selfless people in the community who expend a great deal of their energy and time to make a positive difference for it, get ignored, or, at least, see their positive contributions greatly marginalized, especially compared to the sort of public profile they might enjoy in other parts of the country with more traditional views of news reporting.

That is to say, parts of the country unlike South Florida
where reporters don't have to be begged to attend public meetings that they'd have covered 10, 20 or 25 years ago -without even being asked or contacted.

Rather incongruously given the actual facts-on-the-ground, and the clear appetite for MORE not LESS local news coverage among local media consumers, at least those of my acquaintance, the local South Florida news media acts like they are STILL the Belle of the Ball, overly-picky and choosy about just whom they are seen with.

The negative results of such wrong-headed thinking are all around us in South Florida -and my city of Hallandale Beach- with crooked or inept government officials getting away with things because there's nobody covering them and their city or agency.

They don't use "legacy media" as a pejorative for nothing.

Do you remember my words here recently about posting video about longstanding problems or issues myself, and to STOP waiting for the local news media to, well, first, wake-up, and then to show-up?
If you do, good.
This post of mine today is just a reminder of why I plan on doing just that.


In the future, I'm going to try to do a better job of mentioning people I know or at least am fairly familiar with, whom I believe to be deserving of more attention for their efforts to make a positive difference in the community.

After reading the following, the next time you see my friend Charlotte Greenbarg's name, whether it's mentioned in print or you see her on a local TV newscast, you'll understand that she's someone who's not only NOT new to the fight for meaningful educational reform, but rather was someone who was fighting hard for students years ago against the system, and was NOT willing to salute mediocrity and pretend that it was genuine merit or success.

This description of here is from the BrowardPalmBeach New Times,
http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/bestof/2009/award/best-political-activist-845585/ which voted Charlotte their Best Political Activist - 2009

Charlotte Greenbarg

You don't have to agree with Greenbarg's politics or her stance on every issue — but you better give Charlotte her respect. Because when it comes to activists and political watchdogs in Broward County, there's not one who is more vigilant than Greenbarg, president of the nonprofit Broward Coalition. She keeps an eye not only on her home city of Hollywood but on the construction department at the Broward County School Board, where she sits on the audit committee. There, Greenbarg holds the often buffoonish officials' feet to the fire with her no-nonsense questions. She has been at the forefront of ending the "Pay first, ask questions later" mode of business at the district and has given much-needed moral support to School Board auditor Dave Rhodes, a man who has the fortitude to tell the truth in that house of lies and who actually tries to keep waste and corruption down to a low roar. Greenbarg is one of the good ones — and Lord knows Broward needs all of those it can get.


Her education reform group's website is www.ivbe.org.

The Broward Coalition is at http://www.browardcoalition.org/




THE INDEPENDENT VOICES FOR BETTER EDUCATION STORY

By Charlotte Greenbarg, Vice-President and Founding Member

We are one of the state’s first groups advocating education reform and accountability at the grassroots level. In 1990 seven people, veterans all of the public school system wars, sat around a table at a Coral Gables restaurant (Marshall Major’s). One was an attorney who worked for ESE children’s rights. A Dade School Board member muttered as he listened to the attorney explain how the system was depriving the students of their rights, but had to cut short his presentation to make a flight, “I hope someone puts a bomb on it.” Others were savaged by the bureaucracy when they went public with health hazards in schools, Sunshine Law violations, fraud in ESE student numbers, lack of achievement by poor and minority students, asking for public participation on all advisory committees and exposing the corrupt teachers’ union.

I was the deepest insider, president of the Dade County PTA/PTSA, and I saw it all in the belly of the beast. PTA had a free office in the administration building, use of staff for all functions, use of the printing and public relations offices, phones and complete access to anything needed. I helped the billion-dollar bond issue for construction pass, and saw it poured down a well of corruption and incompetence. I asked questions I knew the answers for and was lied to. I even had the audacity to ask for parent participation in negotiations with the unions.

We learned that working from within was futile. The print media was so co-opted they would use the public relations pieces handed to them by the system flacks almost verbatim.

We did our research and publicized our findings. The longer poor and minority children stayed in the system, the worse they did. The more money poured into the system, the lower the scores went. The board rewarded the lobbyists who raised thousands for their re-election campaigns with huge contracts from the fourth largest system in the country. We documented the overruns in construction by using the system’s own agenda items that not too many people bothered to read. Board members called us “loose with the truth” and shut off the public television station’s broadcasts of the public input portion of the meetings. Even the print media couldn’t stomach that, and the Board reversed the decision.

We were asked by the Center for Education Reform to provide our data showing that as the tax dollars went up, the scores went down. What we advocated became the basis for the current education code. Now each School Advisory Council must have majority non-employee membership, schools are held accountable for student performance.


We work by networking with others who spread our message to the groups to which they belong. Most of our communication is done over the Internet and in the media, which has over the years, realized we were right. We invite you to join us. All donations are fully tax deductible under the IRS rules for 501 (c)(3) organizations. Our website is www.ivbe.org.

Please contact me through the website or call 954-927-9902. We welcome your participation!

IVBE is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

All donations are tax-exempt to the full extent allowed by IRS rules

IVBE NURSERY RHYME

By Grandma Charlotte Goose

Rock-a-bye, children, on the money-tree top,

Billions misdirected, watch the scores drop!

Will we wake up, or will cradles all fall?

And down will come country, Educrats and all.

This little ditty was published along with a letter to the editor in the Florida Journal, Wall Street Journal, in l994. We pointed out that Blueprint 2000 was an illusion created by the education establishment to make the public believe that some kind of real reform was going to take place. We included documentation from the Florida Auditor General as well as letters from then-Senator Jack Gordon and then-Representative Art Simon. Senator Gordon told us that “…nothing much had changed (from existing laws)”, and Representative Simon said, “I call it the ‘non-accountability bill’ “. Time has proven both them and us correct. In the l998-99 session of the Florida Legislature, all references to the Florida Commission on Reform and Accountability, created by the B-2000 legislation, were removed, along with all the funding.

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