When I was a kid, the thing to do was to have a lemonade stand. Now, if you attend some for-profit charter schools in Florida, you can earn money by promoting the school. Learn in this Pro Publica article how students at a Florida charter make money recruiting their friends.
A quote from the Tampa Bay Times article on the movement toward charters: “You don’t want to be the mom who made the wrong decision”. What is behind this concern:
- Children are leaving Lutz elementary, a well thought of district school, because they want to be first in line for a charter middle school.
Why a charter middle school? Middle schools draw from a larger areas and parents are concerned that discipline problems increase during those years. The big take away is that some parents worry that district schools are less ‘safe’. Charters can dismiss students which parents can use as a warning to their own children.
Other parents and educators see the impact of choice on their communities. As one parent said, “I know we are not going to be a great city without great public schools.”
The choice system extends divides by class, race, opportunity and ideology. The public district choice options are to offer magnet programs and magnet schools. The advantage is that there is district planning and oversight which reduces fraud, abuse, and other mismanagement problems. It makes district planning more cost effective. It does not, in its current form, solve the equity problems for less affluent families. It’s only a step in the direction of equal access to high quality education.
I just read a column in the New York Times where David Leonhardt came down on the side of charter schools based in part on his reading about the positive impact in Florida for students who graduate from charter schools. I posted three summaries of studies re Florida charters:
- Charter High School Long Term Effects. Interesting that in Florida, the data from the study were from charter students entering high school back in 2002. Those charter school 8th graders who went on to a charter high school were more affluent, less likely to be black, more likely to be Hispanic and not have an ESE designation (p.16). Soooo, the conclusion is that charter school students who graduate from a charter high school do better on most out come measures e.g. college attendance, income etc. than 8th graders from charters who did not graduate from a charter high school. To put it another way, in South Florida which has a high proportion of Hispanic students in charter schools, these students do better in the long run than lower income black students who return to district high schools. Should this surprise anyone?
I also posted these additional studies:
- CREDO Urban Study shows in 5/7 Florida cities, charters did less well than comparable public district schools. Charters performed better in only one city.
National Alliance of Public Charter Schools reports that, “despite consistent growth by charter schools in Florida, the schools have lagged on quality, diversity and innovation.” 2016.
Academic achievement aside, many decisions are about feelings. What do we do about the uncertainties we all face? I remember the famous saying from President Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. At the time, there were riots, food lines, and the looming prospect of war. Plenty to worry about. We made it then; we will make it through this time.
I am creating a ppt. presentation for Leagues to use all over the state. This is the suggestion I just now received for an ending slide: It is a true story based on an interview a couple of months ago with a charter principal in another county. My friend comments:
“I usually explain choice by how a charter school principal demonstrated it to me. She said in a series of comments over the course of a visit”.
- She gets to choose her teachers. They serve at will.
- She gets to choose her parents. If they have difficulty with any of her decisions, she invites them to “choose” another school for their children.
- Lastly, she gets to choose her students. If a student is “not a good fit” she chooses to ask them to leave and choose another school.
She does not choose to deliver ESE services except of the most basic type. Parents of this school “choose” to volunteer a set number of hours a month. Only students whose parents can “choose” to transport them can get to the school. You see how easily “Choice” works?
Take a look at this editorial. It cites HB 7069 as ‘gross audaciousness’ by the legislature. Heading the list are the provisions to expand charter schools, ‘religious liberty provision’, text book review, and most of all: USURPING LOCAL CONTROL OF OUR SCHOOLS.
Memorize these talking points. Say them loudly and often. Take back our schools.
There is a vision for what should be and could be. Community schools. These are schools that draw families in. They include pre school education and after school care. They offer help to families in need and work together to give children the options best suited for them. They do not divide communities. They build communities where all children feel welcome.
This is a different mindset than the current school choice policy. School choice encourages parents to find schools like them. Communities splinter. Schools become more segregated, and students more isolated from the world in which they live. Students aren’t taught to be good citizens; they are taught, by example to seek advantage for themselves at the expense of everyone else. It’s all about competition. Or is it? See: Public Loss; Private Gain. How School Vouchers Undermine Public Education.
The wealthy pose as benefactors while they reap profits from double dipping tax benefits for their donations to privately run schools. (See May 18 New York Times). This does not make better schools. It makes opportunistic schools.
Our schools have shaped our democracy. They are splintering because our social fabric is splintering. There are those who mine that division for their own benefit. This does not have to happen. We can organize our communities around our schools. We can make our schools serve our needs. It is up to us.
Where do we start? Find out what a community school could be and should be. Read about it here. Look at schools in your community. Ask how they measure up. The Children’s Home Society has started some in Florida. Howard Bishop middle school in Gainesville has started in that direction.
If school choice is about competition, then let’s compete to provide the best and most inclusive educational system.
The Florida News Service reports the mounting pressure on Governor Scott to veto HB 7069 and part of the State budget. We need to keep the pressure up. Call his office and send a message:
Email http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/ (Note that emails become public record.)
Tell the Governor that:
- The budget results in a net loss for many school districts.
- Sharing capital outlay funds with charters is not cost effective. Many small schools increase facility costs and decrease needed maintenance.
- Charter take over of public schools solves nothing. Charter students in five of seven Florida cities do worse than similar students in public schools.
The Senate proposal for education was a practical, reasonable approach to education funding. Ask the Governor to reconvene the legislature and do what is needed.
This article from the League was published in the Gainesville Sun. It delineates the consequences of School Choice in Gainesville. For-profit, self dealing CSUSA charter schools want to come to Gainesville.
Money and people power in California are shifting the balance of influence in the California legislature. For years, the legislature listened closely to the public school interests. Teachers, parents and unions wielded great power. Now the charter sector is gaining ground. In 2016, a bill to regulate charter enrollment and how they discipline students was assured of passing; it did not. In this account, the advocacy strategies explain the defeat.