After listing some of the ‘sweeteners’ in HB 7069 like recess and minor revisions to state assessment policies, the PTA got down to brass tacks. Here are their ‘poison pills’ in the bill for public schools:
- sharing local capital outlay with charter schools thus diminishing the ability of districts to maintain their facilities.
- a limit of 25 traditional public schools eligible for Schools of Hope wrap around funding.
- transfer of a portion of Title I funding away from schools with a high percentage of vulnerable students.
- a cap of the percentage of Title I funding that can be used for parental engagement.
- elimination of school improvement plans for schools grade A – C thus reducing the scope of School Advisory Committees and parental involvement in school governance.
- elimination of the DOE report comparing traditional public and charter schools as well as requiring charters to make this information public.
- excluding charters from the mandatory recess requirement.
How significant are these poison pills? Very. Most come at the expense of traditional schools which harms most schools for the benefit of a few. Then, the accountability that comes from collecting comparative data is taken away. Even though the Florida DOE report was not a valid comparison of charters and district run schools, it made the data available for meaningful comparisons by others. Studies that compare students based on their initial achievement levels and which control for retention and student dismissals provide insight into whether charters contribute to improved learning gains. Parents have the right to know!