Florida schools roundup: Charlie Crist, FLVS, accountability gaming & more

Charter schools. Excel Leadership Academy in West Palm Beach makes its case to stay open before an administrative law judge, reports Extra Credit. The Daytona Beach News Journal looks at a struggling charter in Flagler.

florida roundup logoVirtual schools. The Palm Beach Post looks at the potential financial hit to Florida Virtual School from recent legislative changes. Education Week offers a short write-up on Florida’s online expansion.

School rankings. Take some with a grain of salt, some with a truckload, writes Matt Di Carlo at the Shanker Blog. Three Marion high schools are among the best in U.S. News & World Report, reports the Ocala Star Banner.

School closures. Dozens rally against proposed closures in Brevard. Florida Today.

School spending. Increased funding from the Legislature still may not be enough to get Marion out of a hole, reports the Ocala Star Banner. The school board in financially troubled Manatee takes a closer-than-usual look at contracts and spending, reports the Bradenton Herald.

Teacher evals. The Quick & The Ed offers a legal analysis of the recently filed lawsuit. Continue Reading →


Study: Students in faith-based schools have academic edge over public school peers



For many school choice supporters, enrollment growth across many sectors is reason to cheer. But new research may give policymakers pause about whether they’re pursuing the options that result in the best academic outcomes.

William Jeynes, a professor at California State University, Long Beach, and a senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, found students in religious schools were, on average, a full year ahead of their peers in traditional public and charter schools. After controlling for parental involvement, income, race and gender, the students were, on average, seven months ahead.

The findings, recently published in the Peabody Journal of Education, were based on a first-of-its-kind meta-analysis of 90 studies that compared academic performance across the three sectors. Jeynes also found:

  • Even wider gaps between black and Hispanic students in religious schools and their public school counterparts.
  • Smaller racial achievement gaps in religious schools.
  • Fewer behavior problems among  students in religious schools.
  • Little difference in academic performance or behavior issues between students in traditional public schools and students in charter schools.

The implications for school choice, he said, are obvious. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: virtual schools, teacher conduct, tutors & more

Virtual schools. Lawmakers open online learning to more providers, including private interests, reports the Miami Herald. StateImpact Florida and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting obtain internal emails and a recording of a K12 Inc. company meeting that they say shed light on questionable company practices involving teachers who are not properly certified.

florida roundup logoStruggling schools. The Broward school district will overhaul five struggling schools by closing some and revamping others, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Principals are key to turning around five struggling Pinellas schools, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Tutors. The Tampa Bay Times looks at the last-minute legislative scrap over whether to continue state-mandated tutoring for low-income kids.

Private schools. Voters in Palmetto Bay will get to vote on whether a local Montessori can expand. Miami Herald.

Rick Scott. Teacher pay raise tour comes to an end, reports the Tampa Bay TimesWill it get him any votes? asks the Palm Beach Post. Continue Reading →


redefinED roundup: Vouchers in Louisiana, charters in New Mexico, virtual ed in Virginia & more

Louisiana: Supreme Court rules that the funding method for the state’s expanded voucher program is unconstitutional (The Advocate). Gov. Bobby Jindal calls the ruling a victory because it didn’t dissolve the overall voucher program (The Times-Picayune). More from the Washington Post and Education Week.

MondayRoundUpNorth Carolina: The Senate approves a bill that creates a charter school oversight board (Associated Press). Another bill aims to provide funding for school innovation programs that link schools and districts with businesses, community colleges and universities (News &  Observer). A low-performing charter school pays its top administrator $187,000 a year and his wife, $120,000 (WCNC). Researcher finds charter schools are more racially segregated than public schools (WCNC).

Washington, D.C.: Demand for charter school seats seems to be highest for early-childhood programs and for schools rated high-performing (Washington Post). Education Chancellor Kaya Henderson introduces a new hybrid school that calls for a charter school to run a traditional school (Washington Post).

Oklahoma: Congressman Tom Cole introduces legislation to allow homeschool families a tax deduction for certain expenses (Associated Press).

South Carolina: The state receives 18 charter school applications for the 2014-15 school year (The State).

Florida: Private schools that accept tax credit scholarships look to improve parent engagement (redefinED). Digital learning bill calls for study of course-choice options (redefinED). Legislators approve bill that allows online learning companies better access to public funding (Miami Herald). Continue Reading →


National survey shows mothers support school choice

A new poll finds that mothers of school-aged children aren’t happy with the direction of K-12 public education nationwide, and they are more likely to favor nontraditional, school choice options – like charter schools, private schools and the use of vouchers.

Virginia Walden Ford

Virginia Walden Ford

The telephone survey was commissioned by the Friedman Foundation and board member Virginia Walden Ford called attention to the findings about mothers: “No one knows better than a mom what education works best for their child, and mothers are crying out for more choices across our country.’’

Among the findings for moms with school-aged children:
 61 percent said K-12 education has “gotten off the wrong track.’’
• 82 percent gave private schools an A or a B compared to 44 percent for public schools.
• 63 percent favored charter schools (once pollsters defined the schools), compared to 25 percent who opposed them.
• 69 percent supported tax-credit scholarships; 19 percent did not.
• 65 percent supported education savings accounts; 25 percent opposed the reform.
• 66 percent supported school vouchers (again, after they were given a definition of the program), compared to 26 percent who opposed them. School moms are more than twice as likely to agree (66 percent) with universal eligibility, but they mostly disagree (62 percent) when eligibility is limited to financial need.
• 54 percent favor a parent trigger policy compared to 38 percent who opposed the measure.

The survey also asked about education spending, with 65 percent of the moms saying per-student funding was too low and 35 percent believing public schools spent $4,000 or less per student. When they were informed that the national average was about $10,652 per student, the number of moms who thought the funding was too low dropped to 50 percent.


What’s that charter school spending its money on? Go look

Want to see that charter school’s budget or who sits on its governing board? How about its financial audits? Or whether it is owned by a management company?

Under a bill passed by lawmakers last week, every Florida charter school must maintain a website where it posts that information and then some, beginning in the 2013-14 school year.

Sen. John Legg

Sen. John Legg

“That’s so parents, the media and the community can see how much money the charter is spending on administration, facilities, fees … and compare that with other schools,’’ said Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz. “If there’s something wrong, people can see that online.’’

The provision is one of the less publicized pieces of House Bill 7009, which is now awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature.

Most of the attention on the bill has been focused on its calls for better financial oversight of charter schools. Among other changes, the legislation requires charter operators to file uniform monthly financial reports to school districts that will include balance sheets, revenue statements, expenditures and, new this session, changes in the fund balance.

“This is incredibly important,’’ said Legg, who filed an amendment detailing the procedure during the final week of session. The reports “are critical to bringing transparency to the process.’’

The bill also requires charter schools to get prior written approval from their district sponsors before spending more than $10,000, unless the expenditure was included in the school’s annual budget.

The tougher controls follow last year’s headlines surrounding a struggling Orlando charter school that paid its principal more than $800,000 before shutting down. The payment totaled twice as much as the school spent on its educational program that year, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: charter schools, Common Core, school safety & more

Charter schools. The principal of an Imagine charter school that tried to separate from the parent company will leave at the end of the school year, and the school will remain with Imagine, according to a settlement deal, reports the Sarasota Herald Tribune. The Miami-Dade School Board approves contracts for a Somerset Academy charter school despite objections from neighbors, reports the Miami Herald.

florida roundup logoCommon Core. Teachers will learn more about it in summer school. StateImpact Florida.

Teacher conduct. Coach, porn. Tampa Tribune.

Tutor conduct. Frank Cerabino on the math tutor/former porn guy.

Teacher evaluations. The new evals may be legal “but they’re still absurd.” Palm Beach Post.

Teacher pay. Teacher’s aides in Sarasota County wonder if they’ll get raises too. Sarasota Herald Tribune.

School turnarounds. Pinellas advertises for teachers at F-rated Maximo Elementary. Gradebook. Continue Reading →


A modest musing about parental school choice

10th amendment

An expansive power of parents over their own children has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court since the 1926 decision in Pierce v. Society of Sisters. There, Oregon had attempted to make education in State schools compulsory; the court unanimously reaffirmed the independence and supremacy of the parent. This was guaranteed, it said, in the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment. This rather mystical phrase – and similar potent, if obscure, clauses – have since been employed repeatedly to reaffirm the broad parental sovereignty. Even loving grandparents need parental permission to visit little Susie.

So parental authority has, in Pierce and its progeny, a certain protected status. Would it, nonetheless, be prudent and helpful – assuming the argument is plausible – for champions of parental authority to assert its reality as a source of law that exists quite independent of the Constitution, but is recognized and protected by it in the Bill of Rights?

Perhaps so. I will argue the institution of parenthood might be considerably more secure under the 10th Amendment than under the ever malleable “due process.” The court could be grateful for the relative clarity – and judicial restraint – that under the 10th would mark the boundary between the power of mother and the rights of Susie. Equally important, the child herself could claim this precious parental authority as a right of her own.

The primary example of this possibility could emerge in the effort to make parental school choice a reality for all families. The present economic compulsion experienced by modest and low-income parents to accept the free schools of The State as their mentor could well appear a violation of the child’s own right as well as an unjustified intrusion upon the parental authority which today, in practice, is reserved to our higher-income families. And sheer human dignity could come as a bonus for all. Continue Reading →