Fla. High Impact Charter Network Bill Advances

Legislation

Legislation

The devil is often in the details, and this bill HB 830 Stargel has many provisions.   In a nutshell, it requires better background checks and more transparency for charter providers.  This is good, right?  It also gives the State Board of Education the ability to authorize High Impact Charter Networks.  Maybe this is not so good.

Charter providers in approved networks apply to districts, but if they are already authorized, is this simply smoke and mirrors?  In a way, this is a mini version of the bill to amend the constitution to create a separate charter system.  It takes away local control.  The constitutional amendment will not make it to the ballot, but the High Impact Charter Networks are likely to become law.  If I were a betting person, I would think this is another effort to attract and expand KIPP schools.

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Parents File Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Success Academy Charters

justiceI just saw a post from Diane Ravitch citing a New York Daily News report.  Parents have organized against Success Academy Charter Schools in New York.  I wondered when this lawsuit would happen.  The charges include:

 

 

 

 

  • refusing to provide special education students with appropriate services.
  • multiple suspensions of students without keeping records or providing alternative instruction.
  • harassing parents to return their children to public schools and even calling 911 to pick up children whose parents do not immediately arrive–even a five year old.
Several advocacy groups have joined the complaint filed in federal court.  Perhaps Success Academy is one of the more extreme examples of this type of behavior, but similar charges have been published in Florida and elsewhere.  Clearly, these parents have had enough.  Read the full complaint.

 

Charter School Bubble to Burst?

hands-982121_1280Are charter schools an emotional response by inner city low income families to long standing state funding inequities?  A University of Virginia Law Review article  addresses concerns that school funding inequities in Black urban areas lead to a tolerance of unfettered growth in charter schools. 

The federal government support for charters also feeds the expansion without sufficient regulation.  The net result may be a bubble and crash much like the recent financial crisis.  What should be done to avoid a cataclysmic fall that could destroy communities?

Mother Jones summarizes the three practices that lead to serious mismanagement.  I add a summary of the status Florida’s legislation to address these concerns.

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HB 7029: School Choice Districts Created with Less Local Control

legislation1Legal frameworks for charter districts plus the creation of the Florida Charter School Institute, moves toward a separate educational system from the traditional public school system.

This bill creates the Institute for Charter School Innovation, Charter School Collaborative Networks, High Impact Charter Networks and some greater transparency in the backgrounds of charter school service providers.

The Charter High Impact Charter Network is a structure similar to those in other states that are called takeover districts in low income areas whose public schools are turned into charters.  These take over districts have been thee source of significant community resistance and have a poor academic track record.  The bill is sponsored by Representative Bob Cortes from Seminole and Orange Counties.  HB 7029 School Choice will be heard in the House Education Appropriation Committee on Monday.

Major components of the bill are listed below.  The provisions to revise the calculation of full time equivalence for online learning and credit for End of Course exams are in the bill but not included in this summary.

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Charter ‘Got to Go’ Lists in New York Success Schools

http://www.prwatch.org/files/new_charter_school_black_hole_report_oct_21_2015.pdf

Since expelling students is difficult in New York City, Success charters drive parents to withdraw their children.  The suspension rates are reported to be between 4 and 23 percent at least once.  Most schools suspend at least ten percent while public schools have a three percent suspension rate within a school year.  Suspensions start as early as kindergarten.

The charters use other strategies to encourage some parents to withdraw children who find it difficult to adapt to rigid rules.  Schools repeatedly call parents  to pick up their children early.  They may be counseled that the school is not a ‘good fit’ for their child.  Staff may tell parents that students needed special education that the school could not provide.  Some schools use 911 calls as a threat for children who misbehaves.  One mother whose child was on the list said she did not know about it.  She said, “He doesn’t hit kids, he doesn’t  knock kids over, he doesn’t scream, he just talks too much.”

This whole notion that parents should be able to choose schools that ‘fit their children’ has serious consequences.  The whole idea of a school where some children do not belong does not sound like a ‘public’ school.  When schools become exclusionary communities, the sense of community is lost.  With that loss, the problem is not contained just in a school.

 

Newark’s Lessons Learned on Charter School Reform

team-808761_640The State of New Jersey took over Newark’s public schools in 1995.  Fifteen years later, Newark schools were still struggling.  Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame, donated $100 million to the district in 2010.  The Education Commissioner, Chris Cerf, had formerly served as deputy chancellor of New York’s schools.  Prior to that he was president of Edison Schools Inc., a private for-profit  management company that failed.  He hired Cami Anderson, former head of Teach for America and New York’s District 79 at risk schools.  What happened next is alarming.  It could lead to something constructive.

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Schools Within School: Approaches to Discipline

whistle-149678_1280No excuses discipline policies create as many problems as they solve.  Students are suspended, hit the streets and create more trouble.  When they return to school, it is a downward cycle.

School districts are adopting new strategies for managing bad behavior management strategies.  Just as in law enforcement, schools are reevaluating who is being targeted and why.

The Miami Herald reports that a new approach to discipline in Miami-Dade schools will require extensive retraining and a massive culture change.  The district has 36,000 suspensions.  They have taken a multi-pronged strategy.

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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.

 

 

 

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