Tom Lee rebukes fellow Republicans about charter funding

The Senate caved once again. Going forward, districts must share local referendum funds with charter schools. In the May 3rd Senate session Part 3, Senator Tom Lee said that he had supported charter schools for years but the ‘industry has not been honest with us.’ He said that they agreed in their contracts that they could educate students for 95% of the FEFP (per student funding). But, ‘they have moved the goal posts. First they wanted PECO funds; then they wanted local millage; now they want a portion of local discretionary referendum funds, look blue spruce maids. He called the current supporters ‘ideologues’ who have ‘drunk the kool-aid’. You can see this on the Florida Channel video at 24:22.

Thank you to Robin Jones for posting this on FaceBook.

Florida Education Budget Good News

There will be a significant bump of $241 in per student funding next year. Yes, the Best and Brightest funding was rolled into per student funding and that is not new money. About $160 of the increase is in discretionary funding which will give districts flexibility in allocating funds for programs.

There are still differences to iron out in facility funding for public schools and charters. In addition, the House passed a bill requiring districts to share funds generated by a local district referendum with charters. It is not clear how the Senate sill respond. If passed, this bill could negate any funding gains for many districts. Keep tuned.

Florida Really is the Worst!

I have always liked Peter Green’s posts, in part because I smile at the word ‘curmudgeon.’ In his post, he tells it like it is about HB 7070, Florida’s latest voucher bill. You can read it here.

For several months I have been working on an analysis of the Florida A+ Plan. It should be released soon. I have been looking at the data and asking “How bad is it?” Florida’s education policy doesn’t just have flaws, it hurts kids.

HB 7123 Vote on Monday to Take Away Referendum Money

The move to give millions of dollars to charter schools from local referenda will affect Alachua County’s support for our public schools. Let Senator Perry know how you feel. Call his office…352-264-4040. Ask him to vote no on sharing local public school funds with privately owned and managed charter schools.

This bill affects all local districts who have passed funding measures.

Thinking as a Parent about School Grades

Suppose your child is very gifted academically. You would want your child to attend school where there were other bright kids. Should there only be bright kids in the school? Sounds tense and ultra competitive.

If your child struggled to read, should he/she only go to schools with children who have similar difficulties. Perhaps your child scores in the middle academically, with whom should this child attend school?

In a world of school choice, schools tend to get stratified by test scores and school grades. An average kid can choose a school with average kids. Is this what we want for our children?

Here We Go Again: Charter vs. Public School Hype 2019

The annual comparisons of charter vs. public school achievement are out. Can you believe what you see? Hundreds of reports show that high school students enrolled in public schools tend to out perform students in charters while in charter middle schools the reverse is true. Smaller differences in elementary schools favor charters. This is no surprise. The students enrolled in charters are different! The percentage differences in student demographics account for the achievement differences. Here are the data:

Hispanics: charters 42.3% vs. public 32.5%
FRPL: charters 54.9% vs. public 65.0%
SWD: charters 9.6% vs. public 14.6%
Black: charters 20.o% vs public 22.0%

If these numbers do not convince you that the Department of Education (DOE) report is suspect, consider the implications of the difference in school grades. Forty-seven percent of charters earn an ‘A’ grade compared to 28% of public schools. School grades and family income levels are highly correlated.

Charters tend to increase segregation by race and income. Many people do not realize that the majority of charters are located in the Miami area and overwhelmingly serve Hispanic students. Are these students from the same backgrounds as Hispanics located in other areas? The DOE does not provide this information. Another question one might ask is whether students eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program are similar. Do charters serve the same percentage of students who qualify for free lunch as public schools?

Finally, what are the differences in disabilities for students in charters and public schools. Unless you have a child who needs help due to a learning disability, you may not know that disabilities are categorized by level of impairment.

The bottom line as always is to beware of smoke and mirrors. The differences in achievement between charters and public schools are due to student selection. In comparison studies where students are matched by background and prior achievement, the achievement differences disappear.

Need more evidence? Check out previous studies:

Don’t be fooled by the DOE: Charters bomb in Florida cities

CHARTER SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT: HYPE VS. EVIDENCE

Senate Advances Voucher Bill

Public money for private schools is unconstitutional, but that does not matter to the Senate. The new Parent Empowerment bill has advanced in the Senate Read the back story here. There is no pretense that these vouchers are for low income families. The income eligibility has risen.