PBS interviewed some young people in Chicago about the high rate of shootings this past weekend. When asked why the high rate of violence, a black professor from Northeastern University and a young woman who works in the neighborhood replied. The area was turned into charter schools. Students were expected to leave the neighborhood to find schools across the city. They rebelled. As a result, high school students dropped out of school. They were unemployed and turned to gangs. This is the deteriorating neighborhood consequence of charter school expansion that we have heard many times before. Englewood neighborhood was down to only one public school. It’s the first time I have heard it unrehearsed directly from someone who lives it. You can watch it here Check the tape at 38 minutes into the broadcast.
Want to know where the money comes from for the sponsors of Amendment 8? Charter school related companies provide most of it. Red Apple is the real estate company associated with CSUSA charter management company. They gave $10,000. GreenAccess gave $15,000. Florida Overseas Investment company from Sarasota donated another $15,000. This group arranges EB-5 visas which have been associated with the Gulen Schools that bring in Turks to teach in their charters.
The money goes to the 8isGreat political action committee associated with Erika Donalds. Donalds is the Constitutional Revision Commission member from Collier County who organized the proposals to limit school board terms, require civics which is already taught, and remove charters from local school board oversight.
Remember: Amendment 8: Don’t Take the Bait!
This is worth more than a glance. You can see the impact or lack thereof, of a Gates Foundation program to improve collaboration between districts and charters. The evaluation of this effort gives specific examples based on 23 District charter collaborations formed across the nation since 2011. The Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) report cited what was and was not accomplished and why.
Erika Donalds, the founder of the alternative school board association has formed a political action committee to support her conservative religious reform agenda in education. She calls it ‘8 is Great’. Indian River School Board member Shawn Frost and Duval School Board member Scott Shine have joined the PAC according to the Tampa Bay Times.
There is a story behind this group. You can read it here. Donalds is a public advocate for
Amendment 8 combines proposals for school board term limits with a requirement for civics literacy and independent schools. Term limits and independent schools are Donald’s proposals. Commissioner Pam Stewart has reservations about both. Removing local school board control over the establishment of charter schools goes too far, she said. Patricia Levesque, CEO of Jeb Bush’s education foundation supports the proposal.
Former Senate President Don Gaetz proposed civics literacy even though civics is already required for Florida students. His rationale was that future legislators might want to remove civics education from the curriculum.
There seems to be no good reason for any of these proposals. They are clearly the agenda of a narrow group of people seeking to destroy public education in favor of private and religious schools along with profit seeking charters. Maybe the motto should be? 8 NOT great!
Valerie Strauss, in the Washington Post, shares an article outlining the history of school privatization….and why it matters.
The history, written by Joanne Barkan, is well documented. It centers on the backlash from desegregation, and ties it to the increasing role of the federal government in education. For example, the first federal charter school legislation was signed by President Bill Clinton. Yet nearly twenty-five years later, support for charters and vouchers is waning. The reasons are spelled out in the discussion of the following topics:
*Sowing the seeds of market based reform
*Building a movement from the top down
*Anatomy of vouchers and charter schools
*Charter school performance
*A closer look at vouchers
*Corruption and segregation
Even in a world where facts matter less, it is possible to help people become aware of what they can lose in the ‘world of choice’.
The Sarasota school board will vote today on a proposed Pinecrest charter run by the for-profit management company Academica. This is the company investigated by the U.S. government for conflict of interest. A local education advocacy group “Protect our Public Schools plans to protest this afternoon.
For years, former Governor Graham was a strong advocate for civics education. He does not support the Constitutional Revision Commission’s proposal to lump together civics, school board term limits and charters not approved by school boards in a proposal for voter approval in November.
Graham makes the case that not only is the amendment a hodge podge, it is not even good for civics education. Florida already requires students to learn a whole host of information about our governments’ policies and practices. Read Governor Graham’s comment in the Sun Sentinel and the Herald Tribune that he will not support this amendment.
I received an email message today from Chris Hand, Governor Graham’s long term associate. He does not support the education amendment either.
Advocates for this amendment claim it has a common theme. There may well be one….from groups like the Florida version of conservative Freedom Caucus. Senator Baxley from Marion County had a civics bill in the last legislative session that died.
The Koch brothers have invested millions of dollars in free social studies curriculum that has been distributed widely. This is revisionist history at best. Read about it here.
The original drafters of this amendment e.g. Erika Donalds and Gaetz, when it was divided into separate proposals, represent the conservative caucus in Florida.
Recognize this amendment for what it is…a political statement that does not belong in the Florida constitution.
HB 7069 took PECO facility funding away from charters with two school grades below a ‘C’ in a row. Their argument? School grades are not a measure of quality! Districts have made a similar argument regarding the requirement to turn over low performing schools to charters.
An administrative judge upheld the facility funding regulation last year, and on June 5th, the appeal will be heard before a panel of three judges. There are some other concerns as well. Chief among them is the argument that the regulation should not count grades earned before the law was enacted. A lot of public money is at stake, and the DOE is scrambling to amend its regulation.
Here’s the latest story:
Charter school appeal of construction money rules set for June hearing
By Daniel Ducassi
04/23/2018 05:05 PM EDT
TALLAHASSEE — A state appellate court on Monday set a June hearing date for an appeal challenging the state’s rules for determining whether charter schools are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in public construction funding.
Lawyers for Aspira Raul Arnaldo Martinez Charter School, Miami Community Charter Middle School and the Florida Association of Independent Charter Schools originally brought an administrative legal challenge to the Florida Department of Education’s changes to the eligibility rules soon after they were adopted in March 2017.
An administrative law judge last year upheld the validity of the rule, leading the charter schools to appeal.
Now the schools will get to make their case the morning of June 5 in front of a panel of three appellate judges: T. Kent Wetherell II, Lori S. Rowe and Thomas D. Winokur.
The crux of the schools’ arguments is that the new rule’s use of school grades to determine eligibility for the first time “changes the statutory definition of ‘satisfactory student achievement’ and bases it solely on the grade of the school.”
They argue that because the “satisfactory student achievement” requirement in the law should be based on individual student performance, rather than the 11 components used to determine school grades — a process they say is governed largely by the Florida Department of Education.
One of the schools received “D” grades for 2016 and 2017, while the other feared it may also earn consecutive “D” grades when it brought the challenge. Lawyers for the charter school litigants argue that the rule, which makes ineligible schools that have received an “F” grade or two consecutive “D” grades, unfairly excludes them from the funding.
But DOE lawyers argue that school grades are an aggregate measure of student achievement and “schools with consistent poor performance are in danger of closing, and it is logical for the state to restrict the use of taxpayer funds to these schools.” They also note that much of the process for how school grades are determined is laid out in state statute.
The interpretation of the rule that schools with consecutive “D” grades are ineligible is itself the subject of another administrative legal challenge. An unrelated central Florida charter school that DOE determined was ineligible for the construction money argues that a plain reading of the rule indicates education officials should be looking only at school grades going forward, and not counting previous-year performance. A hearing in that case is scheduled for next week by video teleconference in Tampa and Tallahassee.
Meanwhile, state education officials are looking to amend those very rule provisions at subject in both cases. The department is holding a workshop on Thursday about their proposed changes.
To view online:
Some things are just inane. Leon County schools are over enrolled, but the State will not approve a new school. It is all about how space is now counted by the legislature. Should a gym count as a classroom??
What is so disgusting is that the State would allow two new charter schools in the area that the Leon County schools do not want. The reason is clear. Charters syphon off funding and hurt existing schools. Read Roseanne Wood’s op ed here. It is time to stop this. There is not enough money to support private, charter, and public schools. Our constitution says “a unified system of free public schools’. This is anything but unified and for many, not even free.
Do Floridians want one school system that is equitable or several, each with its own rules? In today’s Gainesville Sun, the League asks three critical questions to help parents decide which choice to make for their schools: Who pays?, Who is in control?, and What does it matter? In an expanded system of choice, local voters are asked to pay more than the State to compensate for less funding and cost inefficiency due to expanded choices. Go to a charter and pay more in hidden fees and transportation. Go private and select a cheap school or pay the difference in tuition. Go public and worry the funding may not fix the air conditioning.
The State and private education management companies take control away from locally elected school boards. Parents lose their voices in how choice schools are owned and managed. “Don’t like it, then leave” is the response to complaints.
All of this matters. Schools are becoming more segregated by income and student ability while our nation is becoming more diverse. Student achievement stays flat in our choice system. The reason is clear; students learn better when they learn together. Isolate poor children, and they feel they have no stake in the system. Isolate high income children, they don’t learn the real world skills needed to be successful. The kids in the middle disappear; no one is thinking about them.
Students who learn only in like minded groups will be ill prepared for the diverse world in which they will work. Learning to live together starts in schools. The real choice is whether we value the diverse world in which we live or try to escape it by creating mini school clusters of like minded people. You can read the article here. It comes out under our local president’s name.