Charter Corruption and Chaos

money-40603_1280AlterNet published another story on the origins of school choice in Florida.  The story begins with Jeb Bush’s term as governor.  What  may have been intended to dramatically improve schools only turned out to be dramatic in the number of reports of corruption and chaos.  The article ties together the power brokers and the growth of for-profit charter schools.

It is a money and politics tale.   You can read it here: How Jeb Bush’s Florida Plan School ‘Choice’ Created Industry Corruption and Chaos.  You will find reports about the League of Women Vote’s study including data from Sue Legg and Pat Hall (LWV Hillsborough).

 

 

The Competition Next Door

By Margery Marcus, LWV Broward County

ft lauderdaleThe local Broward League interviewed the principal of Pinewood School.  Their story is one most districts must consider.  How do you balance student needs, financial support, and school choice in a diverse district.  School grades reflect the socio-economic backgrounds of students.  Remove a large group of higher income families, and a school’s grade goes down.  Create a magnet program in a low income school, the grade goes up.  Perhaps even more important, maintaining a reasonable balance of students from different backgrounds allows a culture of possibility and achievement to flourish.  Without a view into a larger world, schools get mired in defeat.

The League will continue to watch Pinewood in the hope that the district will not abandon it.  There is support coming for the school.

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Past State Board of Education Chair Says It is all about Money!

race-653241_1280Tax credit vouchers are supposed to give poor children an option out of a failing school.  Gary Chartrand, former Chair, Florida State Board of Education, tells it like it really is.

Chartrand makes a case that getting children from poor families out of public schools saves the rest of us money.  There may be another not so hidden agenda that Chartrand forgets to mention.

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Rawlings is Dancing…and Singing…and Acting…and Creating Art!

rawlings1Can you imagine a school like this?  It is real.  Rawlings School has been transformed.  It was one of our lowest achieving public schools last year.  Three months later there is an excitement and energy.  Rawlings is now a magnet school for the arts.

Inside the building, the space is beautiful and well lit.  It is designed for music, art, dance, and theater.  As you enter the school, music will greet you.  I plan to follow the school to see their new staff in action.  Follow it with me.

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Broward School Bonds Back in the News

ft lauderdaleBroward Schools are struggling to make things right.  Sometimes you may try too hard.  This time the district is determined to avoid corruption or even the appearance of it.  The voters have told the district to spend money and improve the schools, and getting that to happen is harder than it seems.   I am interested in how public school districts are trying to meet the challenges they confront.  I hope you are too. Read Margery’s account of a good problem that still makes the news.

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Florida LWV Legislative Priorities Due

legislation1The Florida LWV legislative priorities are coming due.  Please make your voices heard within your local leagues.  In order to be able to advocate for our Education Team issues, we have to make it into the top priorities statewide.

Make education tops for your local league.  Here is a list of topics we expect to come up in the legislative session.  Remember that committee meetings start in September.

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Charters Appeal to State Board of Education for Facilities Money

school-295210_1280On the radio this morning, I heard a story about the latest pitch for facilities funding from the charter school advocates.  This one was to the State Board of Education.

It signals the latest attempt by the charter industry to tap into facilities funding for traditional public schools.  Public schools need to renovate old buildings and upgrade technology infrastructure.  Charters do not have to meet traditional public school state facility standards.  Charters are supposed to be cheaper.  Their real estate companies are making millions of dollars.  Why give them more?

I have compiled a list of posts on this issue.  Take a look and build arguments to make charter school policies more rational.  Charters should make our educational system better, not destroy it.  You can write letters, make presentations and make a difference.

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For-Profit Charters: Whose Interest is Being Served?

money-40603_1280Lots of money easily available can lead to abuse, and it did–over and over again in Miami.  It is so much money that it may be time to follow New York’s lead and ban for-profit education management companies.  In this post we look at Academica, Florida’s largest for-profit education management firm.

Its schools are consolidated into at least four non-profit entities that allow Academica to operate legally as a contractor to its own schools. Their 100 schools are organized into the  Mater, Somerset, Pinecrest and Doral networks.  They also manage several Ben Gamla schools as well as others.  Academica operates in five states plus D.C. including Florida, Utah, Texas, Nevada, California.

The Doral and Mater charter governing boards keep appearing in the Miami Dade Inspector General reports.  There is a lot of money involved and continued poor governance citations.  You can follow the money.  Do these schools do more with less?

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