LWV New Mexico Proposes Charter School Study

by Meredith Machen

bisti-939735_1280League of Women Voters of New Mexico Study

Charter School Regulations: Public School Funding, Accountability, and Transparency

Scope of Study: In the context of the growing emphasis of some governmental policy-makers on promoting charter schools, this study will review information regarding the regulations and policies from which charter schools are released to determine if the exemptions from regulations may impede the progress of traditional public schools and the sufficiency of funding for public schools.

Because charter schools are publicly funded, the study raises the question of whether they should be held to standards of accountability and transparency that are at least as rigorous as those of traditional public schools. The study will also examine the need for changes in charter school regulations regarding their missions (which now allow adults to get their high school credentials, have specialized curricula, and alternative assessments), their governing bodies (which are not publicly elected or complying with the Open Meetings Act), their  operations (which are not publicly audited), and rules for authorization and reauthorization.

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Making a Difference: We Are and You Can Too

by Richard McNeill

boy-717151_1920When you think the education scene is depressing, do something!  This is what we are doing in Alachua County to spread the word as the Citizens for Strong Schools lawsuit nears.  A mom and a grandfather started this.  I just help with background information.  They are working through the parent organizations to spread hope that it is possible to make a difference.    This is Richard’s announcement to the Alachua County School Board this week.  Read how they are going about their project.  You can help.

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New Mexico LWV Urges Moratorium on Charters

by Meredith Machen

New MexicoThe President of the New Mexico League of Women Voters calls for a moratorium on new charter schools.  She cites the Center for Public Education:  “46 State Education Agencies are cutting back on charter school funding because of their fiscal difficulties, the challenges of delivering adequate special education services, and the lack of staff available to provide proper oversight. We hope that NM will follow suit and impose a moratorium until the data demonstrates the need.”

Meredith supports her position with data.

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Paramount Duty: Who Pays?

justiceThe state has a paramount duty to provide all students with a uniform, safe, efficient, and high quality education, according to the Florida constitution. The State Board of Education’s new budget adds $476 million increase to education funding.

It would seem to be a step in the right direction in meeting the constitutional mandate.  Based on a Washington state Supreme Court decision, it may be that Florida is actually skirting its obligation to students.

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Tennessee: When is Enough, Enough?

by Anne-Marie Farmer

dollar-726881_1280Receiving this post from Anne-Marie is pure serendipity.  I spent several hours looking for examples of how states determine how much funding is needed to provide a high quality education for all students.  High quality education is mandated in Florida’s constitution. What does it mean?  How is it funded?  When is enough, enough?  The State is in a lawsuit about this.

Then, this post arrived from Tennessee.

Tennessee appears to have approached funding for education differently than Florida.  Our state seems to decide how much it is going to spend and then divides the money among districts using a per student funding formula.  Tennessee uses a  complicated system of 45 components to determine what education should cost.   Afterwards, they do a budget.  Sometimes what should be and what is do not match.

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Class Size Policies: Charters Avoid Mandate But Public Schools Can’t?

john leggIt is curious that Senator Legg believes that charter schools should escape class size mandates, but public schools are exploiting loop holes if they have the same flexibility.

There are times when, under the guise of flexibility, school choice is simply a way to avoid laws designed to protect the interests of children.  Class size was mandated by voters in 2002 in the Florida constitution.  Charters were able to use a school average class size but not district schools.

Laws implementing the amendment should be applied to all schools in the same way.  They are not.  Schools of Choice play by different rules.  Districts want the same flexibility as charter schools.  They found a way, but  now Senator Legg wants to close that option for school districts.

 

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Citizens for Strong Schools Coming to Trial

dollar-726881_1280It is the middle of the night here, and I am thinking about the day I just spent in Orlando.  I went with a representative from Southern Legal Counsel to help raise support and awareness about the lawsuit they are pursuing for Florida’s public schools.  The firm has three attorneys who now are working pro bono and non stop to prepare for the March 15th, 2016 trial in Tallahassee.

The firm has only 3 1/2 attorneys.  This means that they cannot take on new fee based cases on which the firm depends.  They are raising donations to help pay expenses for the trial.  They need your help!  If you or someone you know can donate, please send a check or go online to their website and donate.

These three people are working for us.  They have been at it since 2009.  This case has gone on that long because they had to go to the State Supreme Court just to get the right to go to trial.

The website is:  http://www.southernlegal.org/index.php/quality-education/  There is a donate button at the bottom of the page.

I am not a fund raiser at heart, and the League as an organization does not raise money for lawsuits.  I am, however, as an individual sending another check tomorrow.  I hope some of you can as well.  It does not have to be  a large amount, there just have to be a lot of you who send help.

Southern Legal Counsel

1229 NW 12th Avenue

Gainesville, Florida 32601

Behind Test Scores: Finland Down, U.S. Stagnant For A Decade. Why?

continents-975929_1920The debate rages on about U.S. education.  Some say the U.S. population is different than in countries with higher achievement scores.  It all depends upon how you look at it, according to the latest N.Y. Times article:  America’s Schools are Lagging: Maybe It’s Not the Schools. 

The controversy is interesting.  Do people with low incomes in the U.S. live better than people in other developed countries?  How different are these countries based on socio-economic characteristics?  How different are their educational systems?

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Two New Charter School Bills for 2016: Florida

Legislation

Legislation

Some of the bills that were shelved in the 2015 legislative session are reappearing in an amended form.  The first bill, SB 140 was filed by Senator Ring.  It has some good provisions to improve charter school management.

The second bill, HB 287 is a reworking of the pilot principal autonomy bill filed last year.  This is one to watch carefully, it is a stealth version of a charter district bill.

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