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

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Law Written For Charter School Industry Ruled Unconstitutional in Florida

Florida's privateers, profiteers, and edupreneurs of the charter school industry were rewarded by Jeb Bush in 2006 with a law designed to do an end run around the authority of local school boards in Florida. From the Orlando Sentinel in 2006:

. . . .After a decade of chafing under the supervision of county school districts, Florida charter-school operators left Tallahassee in 2006 with a law that could allow looser oversight.

Advocates for these taxpayer-supported schools persuaded legislators and Gov. Jeb Bush to create a new agency that charters could choose as their monitor instead.

Now, the Florida Schools of Excellence Commission is on the verge of becoming a school district without borders, based in Tallahassee. Charters it approves are not required by law to meet some of the standards that local school officials must enforce in the name of accountability to taxpayers. The commission also can delegate its role as primary overseer to others, such as cities or charter advocacy groups, two of which have already applied to approve start-up schools.

A majority of the new commissioners have backgrounds in real estate, banking or charter management, all industries with an interest in making sure Florida has plenty of the independently run schools. . . .

Now a Florida appellate court has ruled in favor of local school board autonomy, striking down the law as unconstitutional. From the Daytona Beach News-Journal:


DAYTONA BEACH -- Volusia and 13 other school districts won a court decision Tuesday upholding their exclusive authority to approve charter schools in their counties.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled a 2006 law allowing charter school applicants to get approval from a state commission rather than their local school board is unconstitutional.

The law, the court ruled, violates a section of the Florida constitution giving school boards the responsibility to "operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district."

"This is a victory for local school boards," said Diane Smith, chairwoman of the Volusia board. "This is exactly how it should be, that we have total responsibility. That goes back to that local control we fight so hard for." . . .

A majority of the new commissioners have backgrounds in real estate, banking or charter management, all industries with an interest in making sure Florida has plenty of the independently run schools.. . .

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