Blog for May 30, 2024

New Blog for May 30, 2024

Dear Friends and partners of Enlighten Education Co-op, Inc. (EEC)

Since we suspended operations and our location in Fort Myers, (see previous blog), I’ve given a lot of thought to how our organization might proceed. I am recommending to our members that we become a for-profit educational consulting and tutoring firm.

Most worker co-ops operate in the for-profit space so they can offer the members of the co-op equity in the firm. This is not the case with non-profit co-ops that can’t develop what is normally considered equity in the company. Nonprofits are obligated to spend their income or transfer it to another non-profit if they dissolve.

Because I underestimated our ability to raise contributions for EEC, we were barely able to launch  our pilot project in December of 2022 with the permission of the Lee County School District. With the election of a new Superintendent (previous ones were appointed by the school board for decades) the possibility of a Teacher Assistant Program (TAP) consisting of part time retired teachers and veterans fitting into the current $2.2 Billion Lee County Florida Public School budget is more likely.

There is always a need for tutors and the possibility of partnering with existing tutoring organizations or developing our own is well within our purview.

All my efforts will be directed into consulting with school districts to encourage them to access the rich experience and talents of seniors if they will be flexible enough to allow for part time employment. Please contact me if you have interest in either helping develop our organization during this restructuring,  serving as a tutor, or being a part time teacher assistant. Please run these ideas by any friends or relatives who may be either teachers, retired teachers, or veterans. And please see the executive summary attached below. Many thanks, 

Will Bronson 239 940 6080 or email willbronson7@gmail.com

Teacher Assistant Program (TAP)

A Proposed Teacher Assistant Program (TAP) for Lee County Public Schools
June 2024 by William Bronson MA, MTS, DMin
Executive Summary

Due to staffing challenges in the public schools, there is a need for an innovative approach to meeting these challenges.

The Teacher Assistant Program (TAP) that follows is based on a small and brief pilot project partially implemented at The Success Academy in Fort Myers last year (2022 – 2023) by Enlighten Education Co-op, a 501c3. Participants included Oswaldo Russian, Chris Ruhnke, Margaret Morris and others. The program was intended to be provided free to the District but for various reasons had to be discontinued due to a shortfall in funding.

The vision was to access a rich pool of educational talent consisting of retired teachers and veterans in our area. It was determined that this talent pool could be activated by offering part time employment at $20- $25 per hour to retirees who would bring their experience and assistance to the aid of full-time teachers who requested such assistance.

In fact, current teachers would be encouraged to assist in the recruitment of their assistants by reaching out to their senior friends, neighbors, and relatives who would be interested in participating.

Currently the District has a volunteer program that could be expanded to include this new category of modestly paid staff of part time seniors who would fit in the space between the current paraprofessionals and regular teachers. They would be designated as TAs (teacher assistants senior) whose credentials would justify a $25/hr compensation. Another category would be TAj (teacher assistant junior) who might be younger persons who are contemplating or studying for a career in education. Finally, TAv would be drawn from retired or disabled veterans. Their targeted compensation would be about $20/hr. All TA would not receive the normal employment benefits considering that seniors may already have pensions and Medicare, etc.

This program would be a WIN, WIN, WIN. The students would receive more individual care. The teachers would receive much needed support. And the seniors would have a place to use their hard earned skills without the stress of full time employment.

For more information contact William Bronson at 239 940 6080 or willbronson7@gmail.com

Or visit our website at www.EnlightenEducationCo-op.org

April 1, 2024

Dear Friends of Enlighten Education Co-op (EEC),

It is with some sadness that I announce that we have suspended operations of EEC. It has been a long labor of love that first began in 2018. Financing our operations has always been a challenge as we pursued various methods of helping our young people get a better education. At one point we had attempted to raise money to pay retired teachers to work part time in our school district in Lee County and had won approve for a pilot project for that proposal. The money for that project never materialized so we shifted course toward the micro-school movement that found encouragement with the passage of HR1 last summer. It allows Florida parents to receive about $8000 per student as they seek non-public alternatives for their children.

We acquired space at 3592 Broadway in Fort Myers in March of 2023 and began renovating the space. For various reasons by December we had still not received our occupancy permits and the financial costs made it impossible to continue without partners. So we relinquished the space where we hoped the micro-school would be and put our projects on hold for now.

We will advise all of you who have been so encouraging through the years if and when we begin operations again, hopefully with strong financial backing. We have had many people ready to move forward with us who were experienced in education and enthusiastic about our mission, but I did not want to build a volunteer organization. I felt our people should be paid and work together under the worker co-op model described elsewhere on our website.

So many thanks to all of you who have helped us in this mission and my hope, on this Resurrection Sunday, is that we will find a way to resurrect EEC some day in the future.

Blessings to all, Will Bronson, President of Enlighten Education Co-op, Inc.