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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Can Florida's charter schools be declared unconstitutional next?

Washington State just declared charters unconstitutional and there is a real chance it could happen here especially if we examine the Florida constitution.

From Section 4 of article 9:

(b) The school board shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district and determine the rate of school district taxes within the limits prescribed herein. Two or more school districts may operate and finance joint educational programs.

School boards do not operate, control nor do they supervise charter schools. Yes school districts are supposed to authorize them but they are generally forced to by other statues passed by the legislature or because the state board of education rubber stamps charter schools. Despite this fact many districts do fight. Unfortunately Duval is not one of them that does. Furthermore charters have their own non elected boards that do operate and control them.

From SECTION 1.Public education.

(a) The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require.

One of the selling points of charters is they are free from many of the regulations that pubic schools do.  Well that by definition means charters and public schools are not part of a uniform system. Schools can't be uniform if they play by different rules and are run by different groups. 

The concept of charters is actually an attractive one what they have become in Florida however is more akin to a horror show. Even the constitution seems to question their legitimacy, might they go away?

From the League of Women voters: The court determined that charter schools were not common schools because they were not governed by the elected school boards.  Moreover, the court ruled that using general funds for charters was illegal, given that charters are not common schools.
Will this case impact the Citizens for Strong Schools lawsuit in Florida?  Our constitution, like Washington’s, does require a uniform system of schools.  The case comes to trial in Tallahassee in March 2016. 

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