Voucher Lawsuit Appeal: When is a tax a tax?

justiceOral arguments were heard in the Joanne McCall vs. Governor Scott lawsuit yesterday.  The Florida Education Association, Florida League of Women Voters and the NAACP support the suit.  It is not clear that the judges in the First District Court of Appeals agree.  They must now decide whether the trial will go forward. A video of the hearing will be available on the Florida 1st District Court of Appeal soon.

The issue is whether tax credit vouchers to send students to private, mostly religious schools is constitutional.


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Louisiana Charters Returned to District Control

mardi-gras-1176483_1280Following Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans public schools were in disarray.  Thousands of people who had the resources to do so had left New Orleans.  No one was watching the store, and the State took over 52 poverty stricken schools.  Ten years later, the Louisiana legislature is finalizing a bill to return the Recovery District charters to local control by district school boards.  Did the great experiment work?



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Criminal Summons to Pinellas Charter Management Companies

money-40603_1280Newpoint Education Partners and its related companies in Florida are indicted on charges of grand theft, money laundering, and aggravated white collar crime.  According to the Tampa Bay Times, the company sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of classroom supplies and technology from closed charters in Escambia to its charter schools in Pinellas.  By law, these materials belong to the public school district when charters fail.

Newpoint managed Newpoint Tampa High School until it closed in 2013.  Currently, it manages five charter schools in Pinellas and three are in serious financial trouble:  Windsor Prep in St. Petersburg and two charters in Clearwater are in serious financial trouble.  All Newpoint charters are managed by thee same board members, and they were silent until the problems became public.  They are reorganizing, but the management company has gone silent.

Why the Florida legislature allows these charter mismanagement problems to continue is anyone’s guess.  Once in awhile, someone tries to get corrective legislation passed, but it must not be a high priority.  We have to keep trying.


California Appeals Court Denies Minimum Funding for Education

Two California lawsuits over inadequate funding for education were denied in a split decision.  No doubt both will be appealed to the California Supreme Court.  The judge agreed funding was inadequate.  The issue, he said, concerned the responsibility for making funding decisions.  The judiciary could not determine adequacy.

In Florida’s Citizens for Strong Schools, the plaintiffs requested a cost study to determine adequacy.  Whether the judge will rule that the cost study can be mandated by the court remains to be seen.

Education Week reports that there have been funding court cases in all but five states.  These cases take years to be resolved since many are appealed.  In 27 cases, the decision has favored the plaintiffs.

Appeals Court denies constitutional right to minimum K-12 funding



KIPP Keeps A Secret

top-secret-1076813_1280In this repost from Diane Ravitch, one of the most troubling aspects of privatizing our schools is underscored…we do not know what is going on.  The business practices on charter management companies have always been hidden in a cloak of secrecy.  Why this is so in many states raises alarms.  Incidences of charter fraud, waste and abuse have been documented across the country.

Now we learn that the federal government is complicit in hiding information that most public schools must disclose.  Ravitch cites a report from the Center for Media and Democracy about disclosure protection for KIPP schools.  Under an arrangement with the U.S. Department of Education, KIPP does not have to report its student attrition and graduation rates.  Why not?  Based on older reports, the data are too revealing.  KIPP lost 40% of its students between middle school and high school graduation.

You can read more on KIPP in this blog.  KIPP is one of the largest charter chains.  A member of the Florida State Board of Education has brought two KIPP charters to Duval County.

Are KIPP Charters the Answer?  Depends upon the question…

Toeing the Line at KIPP?


Lawsuit Testimony Can Break Your Heart

justiceFlorida’s educational system is on trial in Tallahassee.  The charge?  One million Florida students cannot read at grade level.  Testimony about the plight of these children can break your heart.  Thousands are homeless.  Most are from poor families.  In some rural counties children are too hungry to learn, and schools provide three meals a day.  These children, the plaintiffs argue need much more than school districts can provide with current funding.  

The Florida League of Women Voters recognizes that the solutions to these problems are complex, but applauds the attention the suit brings to the weaknesses in our educational system.  What are the arguments and what is the defense?  What do the witnesses say? 

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