A newly released report by Integrity Florida underscores the Florida League of Women Voters concerns about charter school policy and its negative impact on public schools. Remember that charters are funded by public tax dollars but run by private companies. The report focuses on the abuse and negative impact of for-profit charters in Florida.
It’s all here.
- Page 17-18. For-profit charters like Academica, CSUSA, Imagine and S.M.A.R.T. perform less well than similar students in traditional public schools.
- Page 19: For-profit charters hurt public schools…substantial share of public expenditure…extracted for personal or business financial gain.
- Page 21: Lease and management fees are largest income source of for-profit charters.
- Page 22: 373 charters have closed.
- Page 24: Corruption continues even after 2016 legislative reforms.
- Page 25: Charters cherry pick students to reduce costs and services for struggling students.
- Page 26: Charters use money and influence to affect policy outcomes. $2,651,639 was spent on committee and campaign contributions in 2016 alone. John Kirtley, who heads many of these committees also is chair of Step Up for Students which distributes a billion dollars in corporate tax credit scholarships to private schools. All Children Matters, run by Betsy DeVos, gave over $4 million to Florida political committees between 2004 and 2010. The Walton family gave over $7 million between 2008 and 2016 to Florida’s All Children Matter. Large contributions by the Waltons, John Kirtley, CSUSA, Academica, Gary Chartrand, and others were also made to the Florida Federation for Children. For profit charters have spent over $8 million in lobbying in Tallahassee.
- Page 35: Conflict of interest claims in the Florida legislature have been made against current and former legislators including Richard Corcoran, Manny Diaz, Anitere Flores, Michael Bileca, Eric Fresen, John Legg, Seth McKeel, Kelli Stargel, Ralph Arza, and Will Weatherford.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
There are a number of management practices recommended including the publication of charter contracts, prohibition of advertising for students, and increasing local school district oversight authority. Other specific recommendations include:
- Limit charter expansion.
- Report for-profit charter expenditures and profits by school.
- Fund public schools sufficiently to remove competition.
- Limit the amount of public funds for leases.
- Report number of charter student drop outs, withdrawals, and expulsions.
California has gone a step further. Last week the governor signed a bill to prohibit further expansion of for-profit charters.