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Friday, March 2, 2012

The charter school double standard picks up steam

From the Orlando Sentinel

by Leslie Postal

A multi-pronged charter school bill (HB 903) passed the Florida House this morning.

Despite a new amendment, it still contains provisions that critics say exempts charter schools from following all sections of the sweeping merit-pay law passed by the Legislature last spring.

Proponents said the bill increases charter accountability by requiring they post information on school websites, makes work easier for charters that serve only students with disabilities and gives more autonomy to “high performing” charter schools. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach.

The bill is about choice, she said, adding, “We’ve got to have a state education system that is student focused.”

But critics said it made no sense to say the merit pay law (SB 736) passed last year was key to improving “student success” statewide and then exempt charters from all its rules.

The law does not require charters to get their new teacher evaluation systems approved by the state, nor does the state have to report their results.

“We’re not holding these charter schools to the these same standards,” said Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, a public school teacher.

He said the bill creates a “reporting carve out” for charterss. “What is it we’re running from? If we agree, they are in fact public schools why not hold them to the same standards?”

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