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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Video of Macke Raymond’s Presentation on Charters

If you would like to watch the video of  Macke Raymond’s speech at the Cleveland Club, you can find it here.  She names some states as having very strong authorizing procedures for charters:  New York, Tennessee, D.C. and Massachusetts.  She stresses the independence of boards.  In Florida, some boards, particularly those that contract with for-profit management companies, are not independent.  The specific reference to market driven reform is mid way through the Q & A part of her presentation.  I have started looking at the strong authorization processes that these states use.  Do any of our blog readers from these states have information to share?

A Time and a Reason for Hope

Do you have times when you wonder if it is possible to change minds and find a better way?  Today I think it is possible.  I read a post sent to Diane Ravitch from Stephen Dyer, a policy analyst in Ohio.  He went to hear Macke Raymond from the Hoover Institute at Stanford explain her study of charter schools.  Near the end of her speech she is quoted as saying that education “is the only industry/sector where the market mechanism just does not work…”  Competition does not drive improvement in education.Continue reading

Step Back, Take Stock

The blog is one month old.  We can celebrate a little.  Thus far we have had 4500 hits on our site, and our subscriber list is growing.  Let people know.

critical-thinking (2)It is also a good time to take a minute and think.   Are we contributing useful information on school reform issues?   What is helpful?  What is missing?  Reflect on the following list and make suggestions.  I will summarize your suggestions and respond.Continue reading

Kentucky Considers Adopting Charter Schools

Kentucky offers us a peek into the process of drafting bills to enable charter schools. billboard-63978_1280

It also helps us understand what is meant by granting greater flexibility to charter schools.  The Pritchard Committee report has side-by-side comparisons of which traditional public schools regulations would change for charters.

Options drawn from other states are presented but not an analysis of the pros and cons for each approach. For example, is it better to have fewer rather than more authorizers?  Are reports of charter vs. traditional public school achievement gains valid? We offer some sources that can enhance the understanding of these issues.Continue reading