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Charter School Explosion: On the Fringe of Legal?
(Part 7 of 7)

By Patricia W. Hall

This is the last of our series of seven articles regarding Charter schools and their changing relationship to our community.

As we complete the series of seven articles in La Gaceta today, the study of charter schools by the League of Women Voters of Florida gives direction regarding education principles. Public education is required by the Florida Constitution and recognized as a paramount duty of the state. The constitution establishes local school boards who are accountable to the electorate and are audited for compliance to statute and rule. They should be the sole agency with authority to contract with charter schools to complement the public school system within a district. They should have oversight and enforcement authority and be held responsible for meeting the needs of the students residing within their districts. Read the rest of this entry »

Charter School Explosion: Accountable to Whom?
(Part 6 of 7)

By Patricia W. Hall

This is the sixth in a series of seven articles regarding Charter schools and their changing relationship to our community.

The scariest thing about the charter school industry is the move toward for-profit management, possible influence peddling in Florida government and the lack of transparency. The “Wild West” business model doesn’t work for education. Ample warnings exist in large cities like New Orleans, Chicago and Philadelphia about where this privatization issue is headed. The issues of profit are trumping the public good. Recently at the National Convention of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of the United States, I met the president of the Louisiana LWV. Shocking as this sounds, by September of 2014, ALL public schools in New Orleans will be charter schools! Read the rest of this entry »

Charter School Explosion: Following The Money
(Part 5 of 7)

By Patricia W. Hall

This is the fifth in a series of seven articles regarding Charter schools and their changing relationship to our community.

Although charter schools must, by Florida law, be overseen by a non-profit board of directors, there are many ways in which for-profit organizations have begun to highjack the charter school movement. For-profit management companies frequently provide everything from back office operations, including payroll, contracting with vendors for food services, textbooks, etc., to hiring principals and teachers and curriculum control. So what was sold to parents and children as a local public education innovation now looks more like national charter-chains, the “Walmart-ization” of public education. According to education expert Diane Ravitch, “nearly half of all charter school students are enrolled in a charter chain school” in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

Charter School Explosion: Doing It Better
(Part 4 of 7)

By Patricia W. Hall

This is the fourth in a series of seven articles regarding Charter schools and their changing relationship to our community.

This week’s article focuses on three of the 42 charter schools in Hillsborough County that the League of Women Voters of Florida Statewide Study included in its final consensus report. Our Hillsborough League, after analyzing all the data available to us, chose to highlight Learning Gate, Pepin and Brooks DeBartolo as good examples of the original mission of charters as incubators of public school innovation. These schools, while extremely diverse in goals, curriculum and student bodies, all emphasize the unique skills and strengths of students by creating inspiring learning experiences to the benefit of all children who attend. Read the rest of this entry »

Charter School Explosion: Are they Fulfilling the Promise?
(Part 3 of 7)

By Patricia W. Hall

This is the third in a series of seven articles regarding Charter schools and their changing relationship to our community.

Charter schools were created as complements to the public schools, where educators and parents could apply innovative teaching strategies for children not well-served by the traditional publics. They would receive public funds and be freed of many of the district’s regulations, but they would be held accountable for the results. The promise of charter schools was that they would be “effective” (children would learn more) and “efficient” (they could target resources on student learning). Read the rest of this entry »

Charter School Explosion: Are they Fulfilling the Promise?
(Part 2 of 7)

By Patricia W. Hall

This is the second in a series of seven articles regarding Charter schools and their changing relationship to our community.

The Education Committee of the Hillsborough County League of Women Voters has participated in a statewide study of Florida’s charter schools led by the Alachua County League. Twenty–one local leagues conducted studies representing 27 counties from Dade to Escambia. The League of Women Voters has been a strong proponent of quality public school education throughout our 70-year history in Florida. The League supports the Florida Constitution, which defines a uniform, high-quality public school system as a paramount duty of the state. Read the rest of this entry »