Suppose high performing districts could turn themselves into charter districts. They would be governed by the elected school board and freed from most state regulation for curriculum, facilities, and staffing. The State Curriculum Standards and assessments would be in place, teachers would be certified and be part of the State system, and school facilities would vary according to need.
The suggestion from Superintendent Carvalho is part of the draft Florida Senate bill 2508 now circulating, and an amendment P93 by the Constitutional Revision Commission member, R. Martinez. A different version of the concept was filed in the House: PCB 18-01 Will there be unintended consequences? No doubt! Is it a better direction than privatizing our schools and taking away local control from elected school boards? Yes. Is it better than what we have now with a one size fits all set of regulations? Maybe.
None of this well correct the test driven instruction due to the school grading accountability system. It will not solve the funding problem for school operations, but it might reduce facility cost. Of course, less expensive facilities may also mean less space, quality, and a proliferation of small, inefficient and therefore costly schools. The problems associated with inequity due to housing patterns remain. Problems associated with teacher recruitment are not easily solved if salaries are not competitive and teachers’ expertise is not valued. Districts will have to have the expertise and ability to make good decisions. Nevertheless, it might be a step in the right direction.
There is a difference between the House and Senate versions of this concept. The Senate keeps these charter districts under school board control. The CRC proposal P93 is more like the one in the Senate version. Both bills include many other provisions that deserve careful scrutiny.
At least this year, the legislature is airing these proposals early and getting feedback. They are, however, still tying concepts worth considering to those more controversial and destructive all in the same bill.