House Speaker Corcoran wants ‘Schools of Hope’, but those charters, like KIPP and SEED, have little interest in coming to Florida. According to an article in Politico, KIPP likes to recruit one grade at a time and keep those who survive their no nonsense program. SEED is a boarding school. Schools like these do not turn around struggling public schools, they select the more promising children and leave the rest.
Correcting deep seated problems in neighborhoods with struggling schools requires building a community partnership that can’t begin with firing all the instructional staff and hiring a private company with no loyalty to the families they serve. Yet, this is the premise of the Schools of Hope legislation. Instead of investing in communities, the program invests in private companies that take control away from local districts.
Here is a description of the plan:
The Florida House has filed three bills to create a mechanism to usurp local district authority and take over struggling schools. They propose creating charter schools of hope, but if the bills are successful, they may succeed only in making a bad situation worse.
In sum, House bills: HB 5101, 5103 and 5105 declare that any district with a ‘D’ or ‘F’ school is in a state of emergency. After three years, students will be reassigned, schools will be closed or contracted to private charters called ‘Schools of Hope’. Charter chains that currently qualify have documented student attrition rates of forty percent which raises a whole set of questions.
- What happens to students who must leave these charters?
- What happens to neighborhood schools whose students leave?
These House bills would:
- exempt charter school teachers and administrators from certification requirements.
- require school districts to share with charters $147.9 million in local facility maintenance funds.
- create a $200 million dollar charter support fund plus a State managed charter loan fund rather than increase public school funding.
- require districts to either give under enrolled public schools to charters or share them.
Uncontrolled charter school growth creates a downward spiral for low income neighborhoods. Public, charter and tax credit supported private schools create multiple inadequately funded, under enrolled schools.
If we want to ‘turn around’ schools, the State must provide the basics: extended time, adequate facilities, high quality teachers, materials and administrators, and positive incentives. Public schools need flexibility and room to experiment. They need community involvement. There is no quick fix, but the State needs to give our schools hope and the funding they promise to private charter companies.
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