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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 »

Charter School Explosion: Are they Fulfilling the Promise?
(Part 1 of 7)

By Patricia W. Hall

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

The first charter school in Hillsborough County opened in 1997 with Richardson Montessori Academy. It was one of the first five charter schools opened in Florida after legislation was passed authorizing charter schools in the state. Like all early charters, it had a specific mission and was led by a board of dedicated educators and parents. Its founding principal, Mrs. Tommie Brumfield, has continued educating and teaching her kindergarten and elementary students all these years. Read the rest of this entry »