In the Public Interest published this mini video on the costs to neighborhood schools when charters drain available funds. This video was done in California which leads the nation in the number of charters. The problems are like those in Florida. Take a minute and watch here.
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.
HB 7069 took PECO facility funding away from charters with two school grades below a ‘C’ in a row. Their argument? School grades are not a measure of quality! Districts have made a similar argument regarding the requirement to turn over low performing schools to charters.
An administrative judge upheld the facility funding regulation last year, and on June 5th, the appeal will be heard before a panel of three judges. There are some other concerns as well. Chief among them is the argument that the regulation should not count grades earned before the law was enacted. A lot of public money is at stake, and the DOE is scrambling to amend its regulation.
Here’s the latest story:
Charter school appeal of construction money rules set for June hearing
By Daniel Ducassi
04/23/2018 05:05 PM EDT
TALLAHASSEE — A state appellate court on Monday set a June hearing date for an appeal challenging the state’s rules for determining whether charter schools are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in public construction funding.
Lawyers for Aspira Raul Arnaldo Martinez Charter School, Miami Community Charter Middle School and the Florida Association of Independent Charter Schools originally brought an administrative legal challenge to the Florida Department of Education’s changes to the eligibility rules soon after they were adopted in March 2017.
An administrative law judge last year upheld the validity of the rule, leading the charter schools to appeal.
Now the schools will get to make their case the morning of June 5 in front of a panel of three appellate judges: T. Kent Wetherell II, Lori S. Rowe and Thomas D. Winokur.
The crux of the schools’ arguments is that the new rule’s use of school grades to determine eligibility for the first time “changes the statutory definition of ‘satisfactory student achievement’ and bases it solely on the grade of the school.”
They argue that because the “satisfactory student achievement” requirement in the law should be based on individual student performance, rather than the 11 components used to determine school grades — a process they say is governed largely by the Florida Department of Education.
One of the schools received “D” grades for 2016 and 2017, while the other feared it may also earn consecutive “D” grades when it brought the challenge. Lawyers for the charter school litigants argue that the rule, which makes ineligible schools that have received an “F” grade or two consecutive “D” grades, unfairly excludes them from the funding.
But DOE lawyers argue that school grades are an aggregate measure of student achievement and “schools with consistent poor performance are in danger of closing, and it is logical for the state to restrict the use of taxpayer funds to these schools.” They also note that much of the process for how school grades are determined is laid out in state statute.
The interpretation of the rule that schools with consecutive “D” grades are ineligible is itself the subject of another administrative legal challenge. An unrelated central Florida charter school that DOE determined was ineligible for the construction money argues that a plain reading of the rule indicates education officials should be looking only at school grades going forward, and not counting previous-year performance. A hearing in that case is scheduled for next week by video teleconference in Tampa and Tallahassee.
Meanwhile, state education officials are looking to amend those very rule provisions at subject in both cases. The department is holding a workshop on Thursday about their proposed changes.
To view online:
Do Floridians want one school system that is equitable or several, each with its own rules? In today’s Gainesville Sun, the League asks three critical questions to help parents decide which choice to make for their schools: Who pays?, Who is in control?, and What does it matter? In an expanded system of choice, local voters are asked to pay more than the State to compensate for less funding and cost inefficiency due to expanded choices. Go to a charter and pay more in hidden fees and transportation. Go private and select a cheap school or pay the difference in tuition. Go public and worry the funding may not fix the air conditioning.
The State and private education management companies take control away from locally elected school boards. Parents lose their voices in how choice schools are owned and managed. “Don’t like it, then leave” is the response to complaints.
All of this matters. Schools are becoming more segregated by income and student ability while our nation is becoming more diverse. Student achievement stays flat in our choice system. The reason is clear; students learn better when they learn together. Isolate poor children, and they feel they have no stake in the system. Isolate high income children, they don’t learn the real world skills needed to be successful. The kids in the middle disappear; no one is thinking about them.
Students who learn only in like minded groups will be ill prepared for the diverse world in which they will work. Learning to live together starts in schools. The real choice is whether we value the diverse world in which we live or try to escape it by creating mini school clusters of like minded people. You can read the article here. It comes out under our local president’s name.
The Broward County lawsuit over HB 7069 and Schools of Hope was dismissed by Judge Cooper in the Leon County Court. No written decision is yet available. Judge Cooper, according to the Miami Herald, ruled that districts did not have the constitutional authority to direct facility funding that is locally generated. Thus, charters could share in locally generated funding. In addition, the law allows charter systems to be their own Local Education Agency which makes them independent from local school boards. Schools of Hope which are charter take overs of low performing public schools were ruled to be outside local district control. The bill also includes a state designated standard charter contract that has no locally inserted provisions. Districts cannot amend the contract to designate local needs be observed. Finally, some changes in local district control of federal funds for disadvantaged students remain.
While Judge Cooper seemed sympathetic to the school districts’ case, he said his court did not have jurisdiction to overturn the law passed by the legislature, even if, as a local observer reported, the law was “stupid”. The expectation is that the case will be appealed to a higher court.
For a brief review of the HB 7069 lawsuits see: How many HB 7069 lawsuits are there?.
The Constitutional Revision Commission dropped the two voucher proposals to amend the Florida constitution. Polling by Clearview Research resulted in a 41% favorable response to amendment 4 that would give state funding to private, religious schools. There must be a 60% favorable vote in November to pass. Erika Donalds withdrew her proposal number 45 to fund educational services to private schools.
This decision does not change the current status of Florida tax credit scholarships which are funded by corporate tax rebates.
P43 by Donalds to have a two term limit for school board members
P71 by Donalds changes school board oversight from all schools “within” the district to all schools “established by” the district. This would remove the authorization of charter schools by elected school boards.
P93 by Martinez would allow a school board or the voters to turn an entire district into a charter district. The schools would then be exempt from the K12 school code for facilities and personnel in the same way as charters now are exempt.
The Gainesville Sun editor, Nathan Crabbe, reports harassment by the Florida legislature. Buried in HB/SB 7087 is language requiring districts who place sales tax or property tax proposals on the ballot, have an OPPAGA approved audit. Districts are already required to have audits and get approval for new facilities. This measure impacts districts, like Alachua County that has a proposed facilities one-half cent sales tax. The chair of the sales tax campaign, an insurance agent, smells a conspiracy.
Other counties also will be affected. Alachua will move forward; they cannot do much else. The schools are over crowded and the facilities need repair. The constant cuts in school district funding for schools has created a crisis. Curious that the attorneys representing the State in the Citizens for Strong Schools lawsuit argued that if districts needed money, they could raise it locally. Then, the legislature makes even that more difficult. Will the State approve the request before the measure is put on the ballot?
For years, the Hillsborough League has studied the inner workings of charters in their county. Here is an opportunity to hear first hand of their findings. Pat Hall has chaired the education committee for years and is relentless in her research and documentation of how for-profit charters work…for themselves. Listen to the podcast by Teacher Voice.
The Puerto Rican legislature is considering its first cbarter school bills. As part of a national coalition, I was asked to write a letter to the legislature. These are my views. The letter is not from the League.
………………………………………………………………………………………………… To: Members of the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico
From: Sue Legg, Ph.D., University of Florida, emerita
Re Senate Bill 825 and House Bill 14441
I write as an expert in Research, Measurement and Evaluation who has been actively involved in studies of school choice in Florida. For over thirty years, I was a major contractor for the Florida Department of Education in assessment and evaluation. More recently, I headed the statewide study of charter schools for the Florida League of Women Voters.
There are lessons to be learned from the Florida school choice experience. Not only did the U.S. Department of Education officially recognize (in 2014) the increased racial and economic segregation of schools in Florida due to charter expansion policies, the unregulated expansion of the industry also has resulted in unparalleled corruption.
Mismanagement of charters in Florida takes many forms. In the current Florida legislative session, the Senate has issued a proposal (CSB 7055) to prohibit financial enrichment by charter school owners and managers and their associated real estate companies. Charter school buildings that receive state funding for supplemental services must be transferred to a district, governmental entity, college or university if the charter closes. Charter closures due to poor academic achievement and management are the highest in the nation.
This legislation, if it passes, is long overdue. Millions upon millions of public dollars remain in the hands of the owners of privately run charter schools. Equally alarming are the number of legislators on key education committees with personal interests in charter schools e.g. the Speaker of the House.
The impact of unparalleled growth in the charter sector has contributed not only to the deterioration of neighborhoods as schools become more stratified by income and race, but also to the physical deterioration of facilities. Districts have joined together to file lawsuits due to their inability to maintain school buildings as funds are syphoned off. As the State reduces funding to pay the costs of charter and private school expansion, costs are shifted from the State to local communities. Local sales tax and property tax initiatives attempt to pick up the slack. Their ability to do so is dependent upon the wealth of the local community, and the specter of increased inequity increases.
There may be a need to offer school districts some flexibility in school management. The lack of oversight and strategic planning in a free market system based on competition for students, however, fails to serve students. Achievement gains in Florida are largely a myth fostered by well financed school choice advocates. NAEP scores have been flat for a decade. The highly touted growth in fourth grade reading scores reflects the high rate of third grade retention, not teaching and learning strategies.
This is a cautionary tale. There are social, political, and economic costs that must be weighed in this debate. Even the National Alliance for Charter Schools reported in 2016: “Despite consistent growth by charter schools in Florida, the schools have lagged on quality, diversity and innovation”.
I have watched and seen first hand what happens as schools open and close and children are shuffled around. It is not a pretty sight.
I am trying to find a way to keep the blog current without too much eye strain. Here’s my latest idea. I will collect links and put them in categories. If you are interested, just click on the link. If you come across a story somewhere else. Please send the link.
Today the topic is school facilities funding cuts creating chaos.