"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Charter School Accountability Discussion in Florida

A clip from the Orlando Sentinel:
The Florida Senate wants to make charter schools more accountable. The House response: OK, as long as the schools get more money.

Earlier this year, the Senate launched reform legislation to address problems uncovered by an Orlando Sentinel investigation of charter schools. The House retooled it and added a potential deal killer -- a requirement that school districts share their construction dollars with charter schools.

On Tuesday, despite objections of school-district lobbyists, the House bill cleared its last committee and now heads to the full House, possibly next week.

"If you're going to have to play by the same rules, there's got to be some of the same funding involved," said Rep. John Legg, R-Port Richey, a charter-school co-founder who sponsored the House version.

The House plan drew a barrage of objections Tuesday from Democrats.

Rep. Curtis Richardson, D-Tallahassee, said he remembered charter-school advocates pleading for independence when the Legislature originally authorized them in 1996.

"What we're doing is giving state money to these huge management companies that go around the country starting charter schools," Richardson said. "Sometimes they want to be public schools, and sometimes they don't."

House Schools and Learning Council Chairman Joe Pickens, R-Palatka, said the House and Senate may yet come together on the measure.

The proposals come just as an audit of Summit Charter School in Orange County revealed that the school president and the principal purchased cars, charged about $40,000 on school credit cards, got about $15,000 in travel expenses, and received compensation of about $400,000 annually. Additionally, the principal's sister was the school's office manager. . . .

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