This is a piece written by Kathleen Oropeza from Fund Education Now. Will the Florida legislature ruin our educational system and substitute a low quality, corrupt choice system of schools? Is everything to be done ‘on the cheap’ so a few people can make a lot of money at public expense? Read Kathleen’s take here.
Politico reports that the new Florida Commissioner of Education is rumored to be former House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Stewart had announced her plans to retire at the end of Governor Scott’s term, but the State Board of Education asked her to remain to ‘groom her successor’. Corcoran pushed for Schools of Hope to replace struggling public schools with charters. He also supported the Hope Scholarships to give students who were bullied Florida tax credit scholarships to private schools. The State Board of Education is already solidly in the pro choice camp, so they likely will rubber stamp this nomination.
A preview of the conservative agenda for education is available from the Florida Citizens Alliance advocacy group. They anticipate that Governor-elect DeSantis will expand choice programs to include vocational programs that focus on apprenticeships, ending proprietary testing, and ending Common Core Standards. (I do not see where DeSantis makes any statement about K12 testing policies.)
Amendment 8 proposals to expand civics education, term limits and centralized charter systems are likely to resurface. DeSantis has made civics education a priority. This is a national priority of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative coalition of legislators. The idea is to focus on concepts that, according to Betsy DeVos, lead young people to support socialism rather than a conservative ideology that is anti-government.
If this agenda succeeds, Florida’s educational system will once again be in turmoil.
Politico interviewed Senator Diaz about his priorities for education policy. He wants to expand school choice and to review the guardian program that is intended to provide security assistants for schools. The interview also refers to Diaz’s support for a state level charter school institute. Such an institute would centralize the preparation of charter school proposals that must then be authorized by local school boards. This is an idea that has taken many forms over the past several years. It includes advocacy for a High Impact Charter Network to allow charters to expand in new areas without local board approval. Another unstated form was behind the 2018 Amendment 8 constitutional revision proposal that Florida’s Supreme Court took off the ballot. The ballot language referred to state control of schools not established by local school boards. Informed educators would recognize the intent of the language, but voters in general would not. Thus, the proposal was removed from the November 2018 ballot, but it is likely to reappear in some form in the 2019 legislative session.
Here is Part 2 of the series I did for Diane Ravitch on where the lack of common rules governing charter and private schools leads. The simple answer is profiteering, corruption and charter school closures.
The first post “Florida Twenty Years Later: Undermining Public Schools” covers the false assumptions behind the choice movement i.e. choice saves money and spurs innovation. What really has happened the last twenty years to school facilities, teachers, and the learning process that demonstrate Florida schools are nearing a crisis? You can read it here.
Diane Ravitch asked me to do a series on my reflections about the impact of school choice in Florida. I did four articles that will appear daily in her blog.
The first post “Florida Twenty Years Later: Undermining Public Schools” appeared in her blog today. It covers the false assumptions behind the choice movement i.e. choice saves money and spurs innovation. What really has happened the last twenty years to school facilities, teachers, and the learning process that demonstrate Florida schools are nearing a crisis? You can read it here.
The second piece: “Twenty Years Later: Impact of Charter and Private Sector Schools” summarizes where the lack of common rules governing schools leads. The simple answer is profiteering, corruption and charter school closures.
The third piece: “Twenty years later: Who Benefits, Not Schools!” covers the impact of choice policies on civil rights, funding, local vs. state control, and accountability. One might ask: Who benefits in a system that generates so much conflict? Politicians and profiteers, but not the public may well be the answer.
The fourth piece “Twenty Years Later: The SociaI Impact of Privatizaton” covers resegregation and the result of the ‘separate but equal’ philosophy governing school choice. Separate is not equal.
Here’s an excellent letter from the Florida League of Women Voters President Patti Brigham!
She tells it like it is.
The League of Women Voters case against Amendment 8 wins in the Florida Supreme Court. It will be removed from the November 6th ballot. The vagueness of the amendment language and its misleading title: “School Board Term Limits and Duties; Public Schools” was the basis for the justices’ 3 to 4 ruling. This is significant in many ways.
The decision puts a roadblock in the effort to create an alternative charter school system. This is a basic goal of the school privatization effort. No doubt some legislators will continue to push proposals to remove any local school board control of charter schools. In reality, local public schools have little ability now to oversee these charters, but they must authorize new charters. Removing this power to authorize charters is seen as limiting the expansion of charters.
The amendment included three unrelated proposals. In addition to the proposed removal of local school board authority to authorize charter schools were two additional proposals. The first one was to impose term limits on school board members. The second proposal was to require civics in K12 curriculum. Civics is already required in the Florida curriculum; it just was not in the constitution. All three proposals are now removed from the ballot.
This is just another step in the long journey to reaffirm the importance of our public school system.
Amendment 8 to the Florida Constitution is off the November ballot. The Tallahassee judge ruled today that the League was correct in its claim that Amendment 8 was misleading to voters. The amendment did not specify that local school boards would lose the right to authorize charter schools. It also bundled that proposal with two others…term limits for school boards and a civics requirement for students. Civics is already required for students; it just is not in the constitution.
Amendment 8 was championed by Erica Donalds, a school board member from Collier County who started her own separate school board association. Her backers include a number of prominent conservatives who support school privatization. The League of Women Voters filed the complaint against Amendment 8. Here is the ruling.
No doubt there will be an appeal.
Public education is about the value and necessity of providing equal access to high quality education. As public funds get diverted to private schools and entrepreneurs, the public school system gets more and more fractured. There is less money as cost inefficiencies mount. More communities are fractured by race, income, and academic programs. In areas where privatization is dominant, parents must search for a school to accept their children. If transportation is a problem, as it often is, they may not have good choices because available schools may be segregated racially, economically and/or by achievement levels. They may not even have a way to evaluate the quality of the available options.
By design, no one really knows much about where the money is spent and what is happening in privately operated schools. Parents who question are invited to withdraw their children. Children who do not ‘fit in’ are invited to leave. There are people in leadership positions for whom children can be ploys in policies to implement a political and/or religious agenda. Proponents celebrate their successes without regard for the children they exclude, dismiss or serve poorly. Parents learn this the hard way.
Most private schools are openly religious. Many charters are covertly supporting particular religious orientations e.g. those housed in religious facilities or that espouse a particular set of ‘Christian or other values’.
Many charters and private schools do not support children with special needs or who are learning English as a second language.
The Schott Foundation and the Network for Public Education analyzed data to assess support for public education in each state. Overall, Florida received an ‘F’. You can see state-by-state results here.
The criteria include:
1. Types and extent of school privatization
2. Civil rights protection of students in private school voucher and charter programs
3. Accountability, regulations and oversight
4. Transparency of voucher and charter programs
5. Other charter school accountability issues
Florida’s low grade is due several factors:
1. It has the most school privatization of all states.
2. Students receiving vouchers and tax-credit scholarships are not required to participate in the state testing or teacher certification programs. Private schools are not required to be accredited. Thus, most are small religious schools of unknown quality. Private schools are also exempt from federal civil rights protection. Children can be denied admission or expelled for any reason.
What would improve accountability?
1. Comparable pubic and private school student achievement measures.
2. Transparency in how money is spent for charter and voucher ESE students by individual schools.
3. Comparable attrition and discipline measures for public, charter and private schools.
4. Public accountability of spending by charter management firms.
5. Stronger provisions to avoid conflict of interest between charter board members and management companies.
6. Return school facilities to the public if charters close.
This is worth more than a glance. You can see the impact or lack thereof, of a Gates Foundation program to improve collaboration between districts and charters. The evaluation of this effort gives specific examples based on 23 District charter collaborations formed across the nation since 2011. The Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) report cited what was and was not accomplished and why.