Summer Sizzle (Fizzle) in Broward County, Florida

By Margery Marcus

ft lauderdaleThe Broward County School District is upset.  Broward County has nearly two million people who live in relatively small cities.  Ft. Lauderdale, its largest city has fewer than 200, 000 people.  It is one of those pretty, but large beach towns.  One third (100) of their schools are charters, but they enroll only 15% of the school population.  Thus, there must be a lot of small charter schools.

Some charters with a high percentage of children from lower income families do well.  Some charters have very nice facilities.  There is once again, more to the story.  Margery’s report will give you some clues about what is happening.

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Charters in Perspective: A Quick Quiz and Answers

compare-643305_1280Are you aware of the Spencer Foundation’s Charter in Perspective Project?  Issues are presented from different perspectives e.g. parental choice, preservation of public schools, and test beds for innovation.

Just for fun, here are some quick questions drawn from information on the site.




  • What percentage of students are enrolled in charter schools in the U.S.?  What is the percentage in New Orleans?
  • Is public opinion about charter schools well informed?
  • On average, how do traditional and charter students compare on achievement gains?

If you prefer a Common Core critical thinking question, you might ask:

  • How would you account for the difference between the reasons parents give for sending children to charters and the charters parents actually select?

The answers and much more follow.

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Local Charter School Implodes: Part III A Teaching Moment

money-762626_1280It is hard to say what our local charter’s parents have learned from the upheaval at the school.  It reminds me of stories about running any small business.  So, I looked up some.  I found a classic.  Top Ten Reasons Small Businesses Fail was published in the New York Times a few years ago.  It may have been written by a former charter school owner: money woes, poor management skills, personality driven operations that can lead to big problems.   The author states:  Rarely does the owner’s finger point to the owner.

Charters are supposed to have governing boards that supply expertise and perspective on operations.  Too often, they do not.  Instead boards are often cronies; friends of the owner.  They preside instead of work at the task of evaluating operations.  They rubber stamp.  They may mean well, but they do not know what they do not know.  What should they know?  What should our legislators do?  We have collected a list.  It is time for the League to go to work.

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Who are the Winners and Losers in School Choice?

Feature of the Week

Feature of the Week

Parents care not only about the quality of education offered but also the mix of children in a school.  How does the premise that “More choice should produce a better educational fit between what parents want for their children and ultimately lead to better educational outcomes” work out over time?

This study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research looks at data from North Carolina.  We all need to understand the consequences of choice.

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Adding New Charter Schools: Will FSU Know Best?

buck stopsWho should approve new charter schools–local districts or the state?   Would a university institute funded by the legislature do a better job?  Now the State Board of Education has the final say.  But, they do not always get it right.

Legislation moving through the Florida House and Senate includes a provision to create the Florida State University Charter School Institute.  It would review charter proposals and conduct evaluation studies.  Will FSU be able to improve the charter authorization process?  Can it evaluate local needs, or do they not matter?  If a form is filled out correctly, is that enough to make a charter school a valuable contribution to a local district?

I watched the April School Board of Education meeting.  A comment was made about how fortunate Florida was to have the DOE, the Governor, and the legislature all on the same school reform page.  Yet, when the attorney for Palm Beach County spoke about denials of charter schools, it is clear that there are practical, important issues that  are too easily dismissed.  Some checks and balances are needed.

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Florida Senate Education Committee Workshop on Charters

bill montfordjohn leggIf you want to take the pulse of charter school legislative priorities, watch this video.  It is yesterday’s Florida Senate Education Committee workshop on charters.  They have a long list of proposed bills to consider, and they are looking for ways to combine bills in order to move forward.

The two most comprehensive bills were from Senator Montford and Senator Legg.    Continue reading

Senate Appropriations Hearing: Did They Listen?

sound-159915_640You may not have watched the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing this week.  It was about charter school management reform.  Or was it? The speakers were from the charter sector and from school districts.

It was not until the last minute of a two hour session that you found out what really was at stake.  A major battle is forming.

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Charter School Bills: Going in Different Directions

trojan-horse-277525_1280It is the best of times; it is the worst of times?  SB 1036 and SB SB1038 were filed by Senator Montford of the Senate Education Committee.  The bills could make a real improvement in the management and oversight of charters.  This has been a major priority of the Florida League of Women Voters.

Then there is Senator Legg’s bill.  It has a Trojan horse.

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