Continuing the theme of secrecy, House and Senate members, according to the Miami Herald, have allegedly struck a compromise deal on the controversial “Schools of Hope/High Impact Charters” concept that would lessen the strong bias toward corporate charter chains. No details are available, making it hard to know whether public education advocates will view this new “deal” as positive.
If this “compromise” is to gain any support from public school advocates, it must contain elements of SB 1552/Early Warning System for Struggling Schools. This bill, which has moved through its committee stops, contains many positive elements and puts district schools in contention for the $200 million dollars the House wants to hand over to charters. It recognizes that kids get hurt when we ignore the impact generational poverty has on learning.
From the start, there’s been an enormous disconnect between Speaker Corcoran’s mission to grow charters at any cost and the realities of public schools who serve at risk children. For example, Rep. Chris Latvala said, “It’s already been proven that giving them more money in that classroom doesn’t fix the problem. We have to completely change the way we do things and have a new approach,” When in fact, the unmitigated charter school growth Latvala espouses is not a new or proven solution in any way.
As the details of the mystery deal emerge, here is an overview of SB 1552 that Fund Education Now shared with legislators earlier this week. Students would really benefit if some of these common sense points made it into the compromise language for “Schools of Hope.”
SB 1552 offers the following:
- “Early Warning System” allows districts to actively pursue improvement for a “D” rated school without the threat of takeover by identifying it as a “school in need,” making it eligible for early intervention and support
- Offers proven district-controlled alternatives to triggering the immediate transfer of D & F public schools to corporate “Schools of Hope/High Impact Charters”
- Does not eliminate the district-managed turnaround option
- Recognizes that Districts who are working to help impoverished students in D and/or F schools have a well-documented need for integrated student supports that they cannot afford due to a decade of imposed starvation funding
These will provide students and families with wrap-around services such as:
- Lengthening school day by 1 hour
- After-school programs
- Drug prevention programs
- College and career support
- Clothing assistance
CD/SB 1552 addresses the enormous gaps left by the state’s chronic dismissal of the effects of poverty as a key factor affecting student performance and its lack of investment in the following:
- Full Service Schools: Health & Human Services funded in-school walk in health clinics, access to WIC. Funding has remained stagnant for 20 years at $8.5 million statewide
- School Health Services: Health & Human Services supports health clinics, visiting nurses, doctors for public schools. Funding has remained stagnant for 20 years at $17 million statewide.
General Reasons to support the broader, more inclusive approach found in SB 1552:
Legislators ignore District Success:
- A prime example of this is Orange County’s successful Evans High Community School, which is a collaborative effort between the district, UCF and other agencies.
- This level of student investment – approximately $1M more per year per school – is something no for-profit corporation is willing to justify to its board
- Florida has a history of constantly moving cut scores while ignoring the more important measure of actual learning gains, a practice that deliberately throws schools in and out of A, B, C, D, or F status every year.
For-profit Charter Chains not interested in struggling students:
- Florida charters have demonstrated a chronic disinterest in this population.
- Legislators are consumed with labeling children and schools with D or F, but unwilling to walk through the doors to see the remarkable work being done despite chronic under funding
- Charter Chains and legislators disregard the fact that struggling D or F schools face the deep effects of generational poverty that requires greater investment and support not “failure” labels and ridicule.
- Charter chains know that struggling students cost more and are “not attractive” to a ‘for-profit” model
Florida Charter Schools have not lived up to their promises
- State has spent$760 million on the building and operation of charter schools since 2000.
- Majority of state funding for the construction and renovation of schools goes to charter schools.
- Florida Department of Education found no evidence to support the claims that charter schools ‘save children from “failing schools.”
- Research shows that restarting a former public school as a charter school had no significant impact on math or reading test scores, high graduation or college enrollment
- In 2016, Florida charter schools closures were the highest in the nation
Please donate TODAY. Help us pay for a one-click way contact legislators