Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Education Bill Least Likely to Pass? Bill requiring transparency from charter schools

From Scathing Purple Musings

by Bob Sykes

Miami Herald reporters Kathleen McGrory and Scott Hiaasen have been breaking stories on charter school shenanigans. It appears people have been reading their work. Democrat state senator Larcenia Bullard has filed a bill that would require charter schools to post information on their management companies on their websites.

Her proposal was submitted days after The Miami Herald concluded a three-part series examining South Florida’s $400 million-a-year charter school industry. The investigation found that charter schools have given rise to a cottage industry of for-profit management companies, some of which have almost total financial control over the charter schools they run. Charter schools receive public funding, but are under the purview of independent governing boards instead of local school districts.In South Florida, two-thirds of charter schools have contracts with management companies, entities that can provide accounting, payroll and academic services. The companies charge fees ranging from 5 to 18 percent of a school’s income, and in many cases also control the land and buildings used by the school. Some set the rent at more than 25 percent of the school’s revenue, records show.Herald reporters found a pattern of insider deals and potential conflicts of interest within the industry. If Bullard’s bill were to pass, each charter school would be required to maintain a website that provides information about the school’s programs and personnel. The website would also have to include information about any agency that manages the school — and say whether that agency is for-profit. Additionally, charter school websites would be required to list the management company’s governing officers and administrative personnel, and any fees the school pays the company.A hyperlink to the management information would have to be “clearly visible near the top of the page,” according to the bill.Charter schools disclose some of that information in the accountability reports they submit annually to local school districts.State Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, could not be reached for comment Thursday.His counterpart on the House Education Committee, State Rep. Bill Proctor, said he would be willing to review any similar bills that might be filed in the House. But Proctor, a Republican from St. Augustine, said he believes charter schools will take a back seat to merit pay and higher-education reform during the upcoming legislative session, which will begin Jan. 10.

Proctor’s being coy. If parent trigger or expanding tax credit scholarships come up this session that will bring his statement to “pants on fire” level. If republicans were being honest, the first thing that ought to come up on merit pay is that they will actually have to fund it. Or politically more dangerous for them, to admit during the session that districts are going to have to pay for another unfunded mandate.

No comments:

Post a Comment