OPPOSE Constitutional Change for Charter System



HJR 759 would change the constitution to allow the Department of Education to establish a statewide system for approving charter schools.  Currently, school districts authorize charter schools and the State Board of Education can over rule school board decisions.

The constitution requires a unified system of public schools.  This amendment would lead to separate systems which then are subject to different funding streams and laws.  It takes away control from local school boards.




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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Making Informed Decisions About Charters: Apples are not oranges

fruit-424182_1280Comparisons between traditional public and charter schools have little meaning.  In an article entitled: Making School Choice Easier in today’s New York Times, charter school operators made concrete proposals to improve charter school achievement data.

Representatives of New Visions for Public Schools offer four ways to help parents make more informed decisions about the effectiveness of charter schools.  New Visions are charter schools located in New York.  They are non-profit.

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New Florida Charter School Bill: CIS 16-01

PClegislation1B-CIS 16-01 School Choice

This is a rework of prior bills to create the Florida Charter School Institute which is designed to reduce local district charter authorizing authority.  In addition, it creates a high impact charter district and changes charter board requirements.  This is a bill that revives state vs. district control concern over charter school authorization.

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Florida Legislators Target School Districts



Boy, did I fail to read the fine print on SB 830.  This is an anti local school district bill that would authorize the State Board of Education to grant charters instead of local school boards.  In an earlier post, I commended Senator Stargel for not allowing charters to discriminate in admissions against students with poor academic records.   Further down in the bill, I see why she did so.  This is a major attack.

There is also a Principals Autonomy bill listed below that should be watched.
I am also listing current bills in the blog under the LEGISLATION section of the banner that runs across the top.  It is green!

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New Charter School Bill Filed in Florida Legislature

legislation1Senator Brandes, representing South Pinellas County, home of the Pinellas ‘Failure Factories’ filed SB 808.  The bill will allow municipalities to authorize charter schools.  Current law requires municipalities to submit charter proposals to the county school board.  This bill would allow cities to create charters without school district approval.  It would appear to be another effort to weaken public school districts.

There is a Municipal Charter School Foundation based in West Palm Beach that evidently was founded in 2013.  It offers support to cities that wish to open charters.  Its financial statement does not show much activity, so it is unclear if this group has had any input into Senator Brandes’ bill.

SB 808 also eliminates the prohibition of a charter school to open more than one high performing charter in a given year.

Neither of these provisions address current problems with inadequate charter school oversight or with the lack of district support for struggling south Pinellas schools.  At some point the Legislature will have to focus on real problems and real solutions to inequities.  An under funded charter school cannot do miracles, and neither can an ignored, under funded public 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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