The Charter Schools Agenda in Tallahassee
Last year, the extensive ties between charter school advocates and Florida state politicians proved fruitful. New laws expanded "high-performing" charter schools and created virtual charter schools. Gov. Rick Scott named charter advocates to his education transition team and gave speeches at various charter and private schools throughout the state.
Now Scott wants to restore $1 billion he slashed from K-12 education funding in last year's state budget. But who will get that dough? Charters are already jockeying for more money. Here's a peek at the legislative proposals prompting controversy:
HB 903: Seeks to equalize per-student funding between public schools and charter
schools. A Ball State University study found the privately run schools currently receive about $2,700 less in taxpayer funds than public schools-- and the funding gap is even bigger in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
SB 1162: Creates "family charter academies," a new class of publicly funded, privately run schools, that would allow parents to attend school with their children. Bringing an integrated approach to adult education, the schools would "assist adults and parents in setting and obtaining goals for helping their children with homework, obtaining a job, enrolling in vocational training, or earning a GED certificate." The bill says the schools would especially help students and families whose first language is not English.
The "parent-trigger" bill, supported by Scott, would allow a majority
of parents at a poorly-performing public school to fire some of the
staff or convert the school into a charter. Some parents believe this is
simply a way to privatize public schools.
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