Pat Drago (who is a former Volusia County school district administrator) and I had a conversation about how public schools improve. She had an example from Volusia County. This was an at risk school population where nothing the district had tried seemed to work. As we talked, she mentioned a friend who was a long time principal who told her that there was one thing that made the greatest difference for her. What was it?
Charter board members are supposed to be watch dogs for the public interest. It does not always happen. Children can be hurt, so can adults.
The Florida legislature passed the testing bill HB 7069 and Governor Scott signed it today. There is more in the bill than just the reduction of the testing requirement to no more than 5% of the total number of school days. Annual statewide testing remains.
I copied the staff analysis of the bill. It requires an independent review of the Florida Standards Assessment, and the ‘A-F’ school grading system or student results will not be reported until after the study is completed. The change in the reading requirement for promotion to 4th grade made it into law.
There is a snake in the grass in the Florida legislature. We need to point it out to our local delegations before it bites us. This is the amendment to the House charter bill HB 7037. It was offered by Rep. Erik Fresen who is under investigation by the U.S. DOE for conflict of interest related to his real estate company and the Mater Charter Schools. We need to contact everyone we can; the legislative session is nearly over, and we do not want this to appear on the last day.
In 2012, Florida received an ‘F’ on Ethics Enforcement agencies from the Center for Public Integrity. On the overall corruption index, Florida received a C-.
Governor Scott issued an executive order to strengthen the process. The Florida Senate changed the conflict of interest rules for legislators in 2013-14. Bad things keep happening. Is there a legislative cabal, or are some simply insensitive to the public interest? There are stories to tell. Continue reading
“Charter Schools Unsupervised” by the Sun Sentinel is a great interactive site. It has maps, charts and videos that explain how laws need to change. Fifty-six charters have closed in the past five years alone. Florida can do better. The Senate education bill does require that charter advisory boards be independent of their management companies. It also requires background checks for operators. It is about time. These are steps in the right direction, but much more needs to be done.
I will be traveling next week. Please keep an eye out for information to share. Send it to me. I will post it when I return.
Some of you have been asking about the Florida League positions on school choice. The positions were formally adopted at the convention last year. They will be included in Study and Action when it is updated. The League strongly opposes tax credit scholarships. The Florida League supports Florida’s constitution provision for a uniform, efficient, high quality public school system. While charter schools are legally public schools, the League supports stronger district management and oversight to make them better conform to constitutional requirements. Specific principles and positions are listed below.