New Mexico: The Charter Debate Escalates

by Meredith Machen, New Mexico
New MexicoThe New Mexico charter debate is particularly interesting because the state has tried to responsibly regulate charter management.  In yesterday’s post, I mentioned the 59 state managed charters, but there are also 43 district chartered schools.  Clearly the state’s Public Education Department is overwhelmed even though they only manage a few more than half of the charters.
New Mexico’s dual charter management system: state and local, should be a caution to Florida’s charter advocates.  Central state management as proposed by some in Florida, has overwhelmed the New Mexico Public Education Department.
Meredith, President of the NM League sends more background information on the charter management problems.

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The Legislature’s Education Train

by Paula Dockery

locomotive-60539_1280Paula is a syndicated columnist and member of the Florida LWV Board.  She wrote a column summarizing the Florida legislative session.  I extracted her description of the process in developing education policy this year.  I personally thought of it as a ping pong match.  She uses the analogy of a train.  This train kept criss crossing the tracks.  Enjoy her description.

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SLC Trial Update: Duval Superintendent Testimony

justiceSuperintendent Vitti’s testimony was a straight forward account of the demographic makeup of the county schools.  The district is 44% African American and 36% white and 11% Hispanic. Nearly half of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch (FRL).  About 56% of FRL students were below grade level, and their graduation rate was 67%.

How the needs of students are met was the subject of his testimony.  Are districts funded adequately to meet these needs?



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SLC Trial Update

justiceI watched the trial yesterday and again this morning.


The witnesses yesterday spoke to the relative funding support for education in Florida vs. other states.  While Florida’s funding is very low, the defendants argued that cost comparisons are not indicative of quality.  They cited the Florida NAEP fourth grade reading scores that are slightly above the national average.  What was not mentioned in the testimony is that about 12 states retain third graders based on their states’ assessment scores.  Florida is one of those states.  Thus, Florida’s fourth grade NAEP scores are likely to be elevated compared to other states.  Florida retains approximately 20% of third graders.  In addition, Florida has one of the highest percentage of students with tax credit scholarships whose scores are not included in the NAEP assessment.  These FTC scholarships are need based and would include a high percentage of low scoring students from public schools.

The second witness discussed the academic deficiencies of homeless students.  The percentage of homeless in Florida is increasing, and these students do less well than students from low income families who have homes.


This morning, Professor Smith from UCF discussed the Florida DOE comparisons of traditional and charter schools.  The DOE reported raw results in which charter students tended to score higher than traditional public school students.  When scores were adjusted statistically for the percentages of free and reduced lunch and minority students, based on school scores, charter school students scored somewhat lower than public school students.  This comparison also revealed that charter schools had relatively fewer students with FRL and minority status which accounts for the decrease in adjusted scores for charters.  Bottom line, charter schools do not out perform traditional public schools.

I had to sign off when the cross examination began.  More later


Walmart’s Walton Family Business Model for Education

goats-692660_1280This AlterNet article chronicles the Walton Foundation’s $1 billion dollar investment in charter schools.  The business approach parallels the Walmart approach of driving out competition and then closing stores that are not financially successful.  In the education sector, public schools are to be displaced leaving ‘education deserts’ where charter schools choose not to locate.  It is not a pretty picture. Visit this site

What Did NOT Pass this Session

FAILED1We know a long train of education proposals passed this legislative session.  What did the Florida legislature NOT pass?  The Tampa Bay Times produced a quick summary.





  • Computer coding will not replace a foreign language requirement.
  • Best and Brightest bonus will be funded next year but not made permanent.
  • Nationally normed alternatives to the FSA did not make it.
  • Constitutional amendment for a statewide charter authorizer failed to pass.
  • Elected Commissioner of Education was rejected.
  • School recess and changes to reading instruction did not pass.

We will review what DID pass tomorrow.