LWV Broward has Launched its Charter Study

ft lauderdaleby Margery Marcus, LWVBCFL

Broward County is the home of Ft. Lauderdale and its beautiful beaches, but there is much more to know.  It has a lot of charter schools, and their failure rate is high.  Thirty-two charters closed since 2007, and more are closing this year.  The Broward League of Women Voters is studying charters schools.  They want to know why this is happening.  Margery Marcus, from Broward, has sent their first report.  Yesterday, I spoke with a reporter from Salon Magazine who is in Broward for the same reason.  We all need to follow this story.  Read Margery’s post.

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Some High Performing Charters are Fake in the Panhandle

panhandle1Way out on the Panhandle of Florida, near the Alabama border, Newpoint Academy and Newpoint High charter schools received over $27,000 in school recognition funds from the Florida DOE for their excellent achievement gains.

Sometimes miracles really do not happen.  Instead, money is wasted, and the good news covers fraudulent behavior.  These problems are not unique to the Panhandle.  One out of five charters fail in Florida, and there are over 600 of them.  Some charters should have never opened.  North Carolina is trying to avoid Florida’s mistakes.  Florida is often called a leader in school choice.  This time it is not a compliment.

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Collier School Board Splits Over Charter Schools

Collier-County_logo-stackedTwo newly elected Collier County school board members have much in common.  Their families started Mason Classical Academy, a charter school.  They tend to vote together.

Other board members take exception to their stance against public schools.  A group of citizens has organized to support public schools.  The battle lines have formed.Continue reading

Palm Beach School District Sues State

palm beachShould a charter be able to open only because they can fill out a form properly?  In February the Palm Beach League of Women Voters sponsored a panel on charter school issues.   Frank Biden, spokesperson for Mavericks Schools, was there along with a Palm Beach County Commissioner and a School Board member.  He acknowledged in a Sun Sentinel interview that “{Charter schools} should not open in areas where there is not a need.”

This sounds good, but what has happened since?

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Main Voucher Bill in Tennessee is Withdrawn

The main voucher bill HB 1039 in Tennessee died yesterday.  This bill was similar to the Opportunity Scholarships that was declared unconstitutional in Florida.  Tennessee’s version would give vouchers to students who qualified for free and reduced lunch and were enrolled in a school with achievement scores in the bottom 5 percent.  A second bill, HB 138 survived.  It would provide vouchers for students with special needs who have IEPs.  While HB 138 has not become law, it was voted out of committee and is proceeding through the legislative process.  Anne-Marie Farmer’s post in this blog describes the bills.

Is This the Year for Vouchers in Tennessee?

directory-466935_1280by Anne-Marie Farmer

Which way will Tennessee’s legislature go?  There are two bills moving through the legislature.  One bill would make any child with an IEP eligible for a voucher. There is no accountability required.  The second bill is geared toward students in struggling schools.

In this post, Anne Marie Farmer explains the impact of the bills.  This is serious for Tennessee’s public schools.  It could be sad for their children.

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Class Size: Skirting the Constitution

sleight of handby Lucia Baez

In 2002, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment to limit class size.  They did not overturn it in 2010.  How can we have classes with 45 students when the limit is 25?  Is there some sleight of hand going on?  Well yes.  The Miami Herald reported that electives were exempt, and some classes like AP became electives.  Classes that had been limited to twenty five students increased. With the severe funding cuts over several years, districts have had to somehow manage to do more with less.   They looked at the flexibility given to charters and wanted some for themselves.

Charter schools could average class size across the school.  So, some classes could be large and others small.  With the help of the legislature in 2013, districts could do the same if they called their schools  ‘schools of choice’.   Now a bill has been filed to legitimize the practice.  SB 818 was recently filed by Senator Garcia.  It is curious that it is possible to circumvent the constitution when it is convenient.

A teacher and League member from Miami has written a letter.  See what she has to say.  Her tone is gentle; her message is strong.

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