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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Why don't Florida's charter schools have transparency?

from Scathing Purple Musings

by Bob Sykes

The editors of the Miami Herald have a wish list of goals for south Florida’s recovery. Here’s what they say about education:

Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed K-12 education budget, which invests almost $1 billion in public schools, is welcome, but it still leaves the system years behind in needed funding to repair old schools. Funding for the state’s universities and colleges, particularly Miami Dade College, remains a shell game that’s shortchanging students. At the federal level, we will continue to push for Congress to invest in Pell Grants for smart students who can’t afford college — an investment in growing the middle class. We will also be monitoring more-rigorous FCAT rules and pushing legislators to bring transparency to the finances of charter schools. We’ll also be looking at how the Broward school district’s new leadership cleans up an ailing, ethically challenged system

I’m not aware of editorial board in the state who’s not been critical of Rick Scott’s leadership on education. Especially so when it comes to charter schools. The Herald will be watching charter school legislation closely as it was their paper who published a comprehensive look at south Florida’s often shaky charter school finances.

Charter school transparency will be interesting legislative initiative to follow during this session as it is a democrat, Miami Sen. Larcenia Bullard who is proposing it. Can Bullard overcome the might of two state charter school lobbies and the influence of five republican legislators who have financial interests in charter schools? Would a Rick Scott – who couldn’t be closer to charter school interests - even sign such a bill?

There are a few subtleties in Tallahassee landscape next month to consider. First is the skepticism that comes from republican Sen. David Simmons from Maitland who during an October senate committee meeting expressed concern for charter schools’ academic record and financials. Simmons is likely to not be the only republican who feels this way. There’s also local school board push-back and lobbying from the state school board association to give final charter school purview back to them. Nevermind charter schools’ considerable bad press.

And then there are the editorial boards of state newspapers like the Miami Herald.

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