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Monday, February 17, 2020

Florida senate advances school takeover bill, lets call it what it is.

Last spring Education Commissioner wondered why he couldn't just take over schools, not that being an unqualified hack isn't enough of a reason, but with SB 1489 it looks like he may just get his chance.

From the Tampa Times:

   Saying Florida needs to “step on the gas” to rid itself of F-rated schools, state Sen. Dennis Baxley on Monday pressed his Senate Education Committee colleagues to advance his bill that would accelerate the time frame in which the lowest performing schools on state tests can adopt and implement improvement plans. 

The bill (SB 1498) would require any school with one D or F state grade to create a turnaround model. Currently, a school would not enter that system unless it receives two consecutive D’s or one F. The bill then would give schools the remainder of their current year plus one more year to improve to a C, or face either closure, conversion to a charter or turnover of its operations to an outsider firm. 

It’s part of a larger measure that aligns with a similar bill in the House (HB 7079) that aims to tie changes in the state’s accountability system to testing shifts associated with newly adopted academic standards

Before I continue I want to remind you that by the states metrics it has many failing private schools that take vouchers, but is there any call to rein them in? Nope they want to expand them.

So up to now Now once schools have performed poorly on the FSA they go into turnaround.

 • A school with an F or two consecutive Ds • Triggers a planning year for improvement • Two or three years of implementing a turnaround plan.

Districts often try and turn the schools around on their own but if that fails after two years they can choose several options. They can turn the school over to a charter, hire a management company or closest the school and as you can see from above they have several years.

Now the state wants to both speed up the timeline and act as a defacto school board where Corcoran acts as king and decide what happens.

More from Fund Education Now:

Explained: Teachers and administrators at schools with a D or F grade can be reassigned or eliminated by a non-district official from the state, eliminating the one year turnaround period for D schools that currently exists and accelerates the state sanctioned turnaround process.
Explained Further: If a local school grade goes up to a C or better, it will be considered turnaround again if the school grade declines 4 years later. Additionally, the law would empower the Commissioner of Education to determine how a school can be repurposed. Further, it grants Commissioner of Education new powers to deny district requests to close schools. For example, if a school district elects to close a school as one of the turnaround options and repurpose it as a new school with different grade levels, the Commissioner of Education could override the decision by the elected school board and force the school district to hand over the asset to a for profit managed charter school. The law would transfer taxpayer funded facilities to charter schools and privately managed for profit companies with no ability for school districts to recoup the taxpayer asset.
The proposed law would make all these changes at a time when the state has also changed the standards, eliminated or diluted funding, and limited resources to retain experienced educators in the public-school system. These new standards, new tests, and new school grade calculations will, as if by design, create more of a challenge for schools that need support.
Please remember, these proposed laws for speeding up the turnaround timeline will only apply to district public schools and NOT charter schools or private schools funded by taxpayer dollars.
Finally, as a Parent and taxpayer you should be troubled by SB 1498 because it allows colleges from outside of your county toauthorize new charter schools, the commissioner is permitted todisregard the decision of an elected body to close schools to reduce costs to the taxpayer, and it allows the commissioner to accelerate a takeover of schools and gives them the power to hand over our taxpayer funded assets to for profit companies without any say from the community and without the ability to recoup that asset.

Hey what could go wrong, right?
The worst thing that ever happened to education in Florida is the GOP in Tallahassee figured out how they could make money off it and that has driven all of their decisions ever since. We should all say no, to the state takeover of our schools. 

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