The Florida League of Women Voters released the following verbatim news release Tuesday, May 27, 2014 in regard to a recently-completed study on charter schools across the state.
League of Women Voters Releases State-Wide Study on School Choice
Tallahassee, Fla — Twenty percent of the state's charter schools close because of financial mismanagement or poor academic standards, according to the League of Women Voters of Florida after a year-long study of charter schools in 28 Florida counties.
"Charter schools could fill a niche in Florida's educational spectrum, but for many, their biggest contribution may be to corporate bottom lines," said Deirdre Macnab, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida.
With over 576 charter schools in the state, the League of Women Voters of Florida conducted a study in order to better understand the oversight, management, accountability and transparency of charter and private schools in Florida.
The study found that:
Approximately one-third of charters are run by for-profit management companies. Many screen students, then drop those who are not successful, which public schools are prohibited from doing. Charters also serve particular socio-economic groups, increasing segregation in schools.
Although charters tend to be smaller than traditional schools, there is no consistent difference in achievement for charter school and public school students.
Many charters blur the distinction between religious and non-secular schools. Some churches receive as much as a million dollars in lease payments annually for their facilities from charter schools.
In areas with declining enrollments, neither the charters nor regular public schools are large enough to adequately provide support for staff like nurses or counselors. Retaining teachers is also a problem; most charters offer lower salaries and benefits than public schools.
The League's study produced several recommendations:
Charters should be limited to those that fill unmet needs in identified local school districts.
Stronger local management oversight and disclosure policies are needed.
Financial mismanagement issues must be addressed, as too often the privatization of schools leads to financial abuse.
For more information, including further findings and recommendations, please see the state-wide study, along with the individual studies conducted by eighteen local Leagues across Florida.
The League of Women Voters of Florida, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information, please visit the League's website at: http://www.TheFloridaVoter.org">http://www.TheFloridaVoter.org.
FLORIDA LEGISLATORS WITH A DIRECT INTEREST IN CHARTER SCHOOLS:
Conflict of Interest Concerns
Senator John Legg Chair of Senate Education Committee is co-founder and business administrator of Daysprings Academy in Port Richey.
Senator Kelli Stargel from Orange County is on board of McKeel Academies. She is on the Education Committee and sponsored the Parent Trigger Bill.
House Budget Chairman Seth McKeel is on the board of McKeel Academy Schools in Polk County.
Anne Corcoran, wife of future House Speaker Richard Corcoran has a charter school in Pasco County. Richard Corcoran is Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Senator Anitere Flores of Miami is president of an Academica managed charter school in Doral.
Florida Representative Erik Fresen is Chair of the House Education subcommittee on appropriations. Representative Fresen's sister is the Vice President of Academica and is married to the president.
George Levesque, Florida House lawyer cleared Erik Fresen of conflict of interest concerns over charter schools. He is the husband of Patricia Levesque, former Jeb Bush Deputy Chief of Staff and currently Executive Director of the Foundation for Excellence in Education which promotes school choice.
Representative Manny Diaz is Dean of Doral Academy, an Academica managed school. He is the leader for the new statewide contract bill in the Florida House. Doral College was cited by the Florida Auditor General for a $400,000 loan from Doral Charter High School. Conflict of Interest and procurement for Charters with federal grants.