Local Charter School Implodes: Part III A Teaching Moment

money-762626_1280It is hard to say what our local charter’s parents have learned from the upheaval at the school.  It reminds me of stories about running any small business.  So, I looked up some.  I found a classic.  Top Ten Reasons Small Businesses Fail was published in the New York Times a few years ago.  It may have been written by a former charter school owner: money woes, poor management skills, personality driven operations that can lead to big problems.   The author states:  Rarely does the owner’s finger point to the owner.

Charters are supposed to have governing boards that supply expertise and perspective on operations.  Too often, they do not.  Instead boards are often cronies; friends of the owner.  They preside instead of work at the task of evaluating operations.  They rubber stamp.  They may mean well, but they do not know what they do not know.  What should they know?  What should our legislators do?  We have collected a list.  It is time for the League to go to work.

Continue reading

A Local Charter Implodes: Part II: No one in Charge?

leader precocious-432664_1280 When charters go wrong, parents have to vote with their feet.  They chose to send their children to charters, and they can choose to leave.  This was the message our local charter received.

Is leaving the school the only option?  Aren’t districts responsible for charters?  After all, districts sign the charter contracts.  More often than not, the answer is ‘No’.  Why is that?  Who is in charge?


Continue reading

A Local Charter Implodes: Part I, The Tip of the Iceberg

iceberg-415212_1280In the League of Women Voters, we study data, laws, rules and regulations.  We base our positions on facts.  Sometimes, the facts just do not make events seem real.

We decided to tell a story–it even has a sequel.  The facts are there, but the story is about high expectations and false hopes.  It is about how dreams go wrong.  It is a true story.




Continue reading

LWV Broward has Launched its Charter Study

ft lauderdaleby Margery Marcus, LWVBCFL

Broward County is the home of Ft. Lauderdale and its beautiful beaches, but there is much more to know.  It has a lot of charter schools, and their failure rate is high.  Thirty-two charters closed since 2007, and more are closing this year.  The Broward League of Women Voters is studying charters schools.  They want to know why this is happening.  Margery Marcus, from Broward, has sent their first report.  Yesterday, I spoke with a reporter from Salon Magazine who is in Broward for the same reason.  We all need to follow this story.  Read Margery’s post.

Continue reading

Florida Charter Schools: Did $67 Million Just Disappear?

money-case-163495_1280This is another post about money and ethics.  This time we consider laws that are made but not are not enforceable.   Let’s start with a Florida Legislature’s 2007 Interim Report on Charter School Accountability.  It reported that Florida law “does not regulate conflict of interest for charter schools board members or employees”…but if nonprofits want tax exempt status, then federal conflict of interest must be observed. The Florida Auditor General uncovered continuing problems and recommended that charter board members be included under Florida’s Code of Ethics as Public Officers.

What has been proposed to curb abuse?  There have been specific recommendations even from the charter industry.  See what they are and figure out why the money disappeared.  (Is this a Common Core question requiring critical thinking and problem solving?  Not really!)

Continue reading

Florida Leads the Nation in Corrupt Officials

jail-429633__180Some people like rules. They keep life simple. Others think rules just get in the way of getting things done.  Floridians have a reputation for avoiding as many rules as possible except for their traditional public schools.  They are rule bound, and some parents rebel. There is an escape clause called ‘school choice’.  For charters and private schools the rules are bent or removed.

Charters are supposed to save money, and theyprovide a way for private businesses to make money, lots of it.  The money comes from the state or from corporate tax rebates.  It is big money, about half of the State’s general fund.

One wonders if controls on ethics and conflict of interest are sufficiently strong to protect the public interest in education?  The buzz about Florida is that there is more self-interest than public interest than in any other state.  Are such allegations warranted?

Continue reading

Some High Performing Charters are Fake in the Panhandle

panhandle1Way out on the Panhandle of Florida, near the Alabama border, Newpoint Academy and Newpoint High charter schools received over $27,000 in school recognition funds from the Florida DOE for their excellent achievement gains.

Sometimes miracles really do not happen.  Instead, money is wasted, and the good news covers fraudulent behavior.  These problems are not unique to the Panhandle.  One out of five charters fail in Florida, and there are over 600 of them.  Some charters should have never opened.  North Carolina is trying to avoid Florida’s mistakes.  Florida is often called a leader in school choice.  This time it is not a compliment.

Continue reading

Is Public Education Dead in Nevada?

death valleyRemember the Personal Learning Accounts Florida enacted last year for K12 students with disabilities?  They provide about $10,000 for private school tuition, services and other materials.  Public school students are not eligible, but home schoolers are.

Nevada has outdone Florida.  Almost everyone can receive some money.  Will public education become a waste land?

Continue reading

Charter Oversight Needed Now

buck stopsby Carol Clark Hentschel, Palm Beach

Palm Beach has had more than its share of problems with failing charter schools.  Citizens there want better management oversight.  Carol is the Palm Beach League’s education team chair.  She makes a strong argument that the time is now for change.  The buck stops with us.  We have to insist on better accountability and oversight.

Continue reading