Teacher ranks continue to grow in Florida charter schools

charter school teacher chart2

It’s no surprise, given rocketing growth in Florida charter school enrollment, that the number of charter school teachers is on the rise, too. But the trend lines are still worth an update.

Last year, the number of instructional personnel in Florida charter schools reached 11,446, according to the most recent data from the Florida Department of Education. That’s up 7 percent from fall 2011, when the number topped 10,000 for the first time. (The number of instructional personnel in all Florida public schools is up 2.2 percent.) Charter teachers now account for 5.9 percent of Florida’s entire teacher corps.

We’ll try to corral the 2013-14 numbers once they’re available in a month or so. In the meantime, check out this spreadsheet from DOE. It shows the number of charter school employees by category, and offers a district-by-district breakdown.


Florida schools roundup: 10-day count, cell towers, background checks & more

Board of Ed: Florida public school educators want more per-student funding and more money for technology, teacher training, dual enrollment courses and algebra camps for rising 9th graders, according to a preliminary budget request the State Board of Education is considering next week. Sun Sentinel.

florida-roundup-logoCommon Core: New K-12 education standards are reshaping classroom instruction to better reflect the realities of college and the workplace, the Broward County school district says. Sun Sentinel. House Speaker Will Weatherford says he supports high academic standards, but tells StateImpact Florida that critics raised some legitimate concerns about Common Core.

Tony Bennett: A guest post in Education Week  says the only people who believe the former Florida Education Commissioner was exonerated are those who agree with him.

Charter schools: Palm Beach County School Board members approve plans for a city-run K-5 charter schools that calls for 600 students and is set to open next year. The school will focus on raising reading levels among the city’s children. Sun Sentinel. Pinellas County school officials determine there was no evidence of “cherry picking” students at a newly opened charter school in St. Petersburg. Tampa Bay Times.

10-day count: Some Treasure Coast students may not be in the same classroom where they started the school year about three weeks ago and others could have a different teacher as districts analyze data from the enrollment counts taken after the first 10 days of school. TC Palm.

Continue Reading →


FDOE: Florida does good job reporting school spending data to the public

FDOE: Florida’s school district data reporting systems are highly regarded and are used as models for other states.

FDOE: Florida’s school district data reporting systems are highly regarded and are used as models for other states.

Editor’s note: On redefinED last week, Jason Bedrick at the Cato Institute offered suggestions to the Florida Department of Education on improving its financial transparency, including how to make fuller, more accurate per-pupil spending figures easily available to the public. The post drew the following response from the FDOE communications office.

The Florida Department  of Education staff is concerned  the Cato  Institute’s release on financial reporting failed to explore or consider important elements of the Florida financial reporting process. In the process of grading all states, researchers often use a one-size- fits-all research model that does not necessarily accommodate state variation in financial reporting. To validate initial findings, it is appropriate to share the findings with information sources before publication. Below is a summary of available Florida school district finance data.

Transparency Florida

Florida’s school district financial reporting systems for approximately 2.7 million students and over 321,000 full-time employees have long been considered among the best in the nation. With the enactment of the Transparency Florida Act established in Section 215.985, Florida Statutes, by the 2011 Florida Legislature, the FDOE has improved the availability of school district financial  data  for  taxpayers,  parents,  and  education advocates. Governmental  agencies, including the FDOE and school districts, provide current budget data and the most recent year’s revenue and expenditure information on their websites. Within the next year, school districts also will provide current-year expenditure information and vendor contract information on a regular basis.

Profiles of Florida School Districts

The Profiles of Florida School Districts – Financial Data is an annual publication that summarizes school district Annual Financial Report data that is available on the department’s webpage at  http://www.fldoe.org/fefp/sdafr.asp. The Annual Financial Report presents data at the district level detailing revenue by source and presenting expenditures by fund, function, and object. For ease of use, the FDOE condenses the data, in part, into the profiles publication, which is available at  http://www.fldoe.org/fefp/profile.asp. Continue Reading →


Charter schools: more diversity, more poverty, similar results

sassEvery year the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) releases its School and Staffing Survey, a treasure mine of interesting education tidbits for education data geeks.

According to the latest (collected from 14,000 schools during the 2011-12 school year), 64 percent of private school 12th graders will go on to a 4-year college or university but only 39.5 percent of traditional public school students and 37.2 percent of charter school students will do the same.

But don’t get too excited. Some caution is needed before making a conclusion about the impact of these schools because there are big differences regarding students and teachers at these schools. For example, private schools are much whiter and more affluent than public schools. That might explain some of the 25 percentage point advantage in college enrollment rates.

But if being whiter and more affluent helps private schools, it doesn’t seem to do much for traditional public schools when compared to charter schools. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Rick Scott, Tony Bennett, charter schools & more

Rick Scott: Florida’s governor is in the middle of a tug-of-war over education that could reshape the state’s schools while also turning upside down the 2016 presidential race. Associated Press.

florida-roundup-logoTony Bennett: Sunshine State News reports that it was Tony Bennett’s successor in Indiana, Glenda Ritz, formerly head of the teachers union in Washington Township schools, who turned over Bennett’s emails to the Associated Press.

Charter schools: Palm Beach County school district officials recommend the board approve a 90-day termination notice for two iGeneration Empowerment Academy schools after a last-minute location change and a host of fire code problems. Palm Beach Post. McKeel Academy schools in Polk County give up making their own meals in favor of a food service company’s healthy offerings. The Ledger. After two Fs, Imagine Middle School in Pinellas County asks the state for a waiver to stay open. Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher raises: About 100 Orange County teachers frustrated by the slow pace of bargaining over raises crowd into a school board meeting to encourage board members to “fund what you value.” Orlando Sentinel.

9/11: Four Duval County high school seniors in a Junior ROTC class share memories of the terrorists attacks. Florida Times-Union.

Dropouts: The Orange County school district tries a new dropout prevention program that has officials knocking on parents’ doors and re-registers 224 students. Orlando Sentinel. The No. 1 reason students drop out of high school? Classes aren’t interesting. Orlando Sentinel.

Contamination: At least four Miami-Dade public schools will have soil samples tested for contamination from an old city incinerator. Miami Herald.

50th anniversary: Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, a private Catholic high school for girls in South Miami-Dade, opened 50 years ago in two rooms and today serves 824 students. Miami Herald.

Teachers: Many new teachers feel overwhelmed because they are often assigned to the most difficult schools. StateImpact Florida’s continuing series, Classroom Contemplations, looks at one teacher who left her school to work with death row inmates.

Bullying: A 12-year-old Lakeland girl is found dead in what her family is calling an apparent suicide after she endured more than a year of online bullying. The Ledger. A 13-year-old Polk County student starts a nonprofit organization in reaction to the bullying he endured because of his diagnosis of Tourette’s syndrome, and garners national attention. The Ledger.

Budgets: The Polk County School Board approves a $758.3 million general fund budget focused on student achievement, struggling readers, Common Core curriculum standards, and low-performing schools. The Ledger. The Lee County School Board OKs a $1.3 billion budget for the 2013-14 school year. Fort Myers News-Press. The Pinellas County School Board unanimously approves a $1.3 billion budget for 2013-14 that includes pay raises for teachers and a smaller tax rate for property owners. Tampa Bay Times.

Cell towers: Collier County school board members hear from concerned citizens about a cell phone tower planned for a local elementary. Naples Daily News.

Technology: An Escambia County high school is the recipient of 40 new computers donated in honor of a pioneering principal. Pensacola News Journal. For the first time, Hillsborough County public school students can – with permission from their teachers – use personal devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops in the classroom. The Tampa Tribune.

Conduct: A Hillsborough County high school student faces a weapons charge after he shows a gun to a classmate. The Tampa Tribune.


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

florida-roundup-logoCommon Core: On Hernando County School Board members’ discussion of the new standards: “If there was one bright spot in board members’ critique of Common Core it was that they accidentally made a beautiful argument in the standards’ favor,” writes columnist Dan DeWitt for the Tampa Bay Times. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education reaches out to the Pasco school district get the word out to parents about Common Core. Tampa Bay Times.

School nurses: School health clinics re-imagine the role of school nurses with more programs that could help students earn better grades. StateImpact Florida.

Conduct: A former Hillsborough County elementary school principal receives six consecutive life sentences after pleading guilty to two murders, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery. Tampa Bay Times.

Bus fees: Thousands of Lake County students who lost their bus service to school this year will soon be able to pay a fee to ride while others will get free rides if their walking route is considered dangerous by a new school board-created standard. Orlando Sentinel.

Teacher pay: Manatee County school leaders and the local teachers union reach an agreement that will restore some of the salaries frozen or cut in past years. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 

Conversion charter: Manatee County School Board leaders approve the district’s first conversion charter school – Monroe Rowlett Academy of Arts and Communication, which will open next fall. Bradenton Herald.

Budgets: The Manatee County School Board postpones the final vote on the budget to give the public time to review it. Bradenton Herald.

9/11 tribute: Two Providence Community School students in Manatee County promote a 9/11 project to make sure their community and fellow students never lose awareness of the tragic day. Bradenton Herald.

Science fair: A Leon County middle school student has been named a finalist in the Broadcom MASTERS national science fair. Tallahassee Democrat.


Markets can undermine social justice aims of charter schools

Editor’s note: This guest post is by Chris Lubienski, professor of education policy at the University of Illinois, where he is director of the Forum on the Future of Public Education. He is at twitter.com/CLub_edu



Some social justice advocates are quite enthralled with the possibilities of school choice. While district and enrollment boundaries reflect segregated residential patterns in the U.S., choice allows families to select schools across these artificial barriers, eradicating an important institutional impediment to equity. Moreover, schools then must compete to attract students, just like businesses strive to attract customers.

Charter schools reflect these ideals. It’s worth remembering that some of the early adopters of this innovation were progressive educators frustrated by the disservice that district-run public schools were doing to marginalized children. Charter schools embody the advantages of choice: giving parents alternatives, creating competition with public school districts, and offering the possibility of more socially integrated education based on interest, not race or residence. Compared to, say, vouchers, charters are the choice policy most favored by liberals. (Of course, charters also are embraced by conservative market advocates.)

Since the charter movement began, there have been debates about whether charter schools represent privatization. The recent issue of the Oxford Review of Education, which focuses on privatization, education and social justice, considers such questions and the equity implications.

In the classic sense of the term, it’s difficult to argue that charter schools “privatize” public education. Unlike, say, the transfer of state-run industries to private owners in Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s, ownership of public schools is generally not being shifted to private hands. In fact, one could argue the opposite is happening, as some private schools have opted into the publicly funded system to become charter schools, and many families have left tuition-based private schools for “free” taxpayer-funded charter schools.

Yet it’s also difficult to ignore the large-scale shift in American educational governance. Within a few short years, large swaths of urban systems run by elected school boards have been transferred to private (for-profit and non-profit) management groups. In Los Angeles, 100,000 students are now in charter schools.  More than 1 in 3 public school students in Detroit, Kansas City and the District of Columbia now attend privately run charter schools. Policymakers are aggressively shutting down Chicago’s neighborhood public schools and inviting in private charter operators. Louisiana embraced charter schools as the primary reform model for re-making public education in post-Katrina New Orleans, where some 80 percent of students now attend charter schools. This is a remarkable record for a school model that didn’t exist 25 years ago.

So in this broader view, it would seem charters serve as a vehicle for moving governance of public education away from public control. Moreover, the charter movement is serving as the primary entry point for private investment seeking to reconfigure public education into a site for profit-making. Continue Reading →


Rick Hess on school choice, Common Core and for-profits in education



For those who dismiss the potential upside of for-profits in education, Rick Hess asks them to consider virtually every other aspect of their lives.

“Think about other big investments people make: their house, their car, their tablet or smartphone,” wrote Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, in a live chat on redefinED today. “If you told folks that they could get a house or car made by a nonprofit, they wouldn’t think it was better – odds are, they’d look at you like you were nuts.”

“Fact is, in most of American life, something being a for-profit is generally regarded as a good thing – and government-provided services are frequently regarded as mediocre, or suspect. It’s not immediately clear to me that it ought to be expected to be different in education.”

We asked Hess to join us because he has co-edited a new book on for-profits in education, “Private Enterprise and Public Education.” But over the course of an hour, he weighed in on a wide range of topics. Among the highlights:

On Jeb Bush, his presidential ambitions and Common Core: “Jeb’s got a remarkable track record on education. But, especially in GOP primaries, his full-throated backing of Common Core could trump the rest.”

On President Obama and his administration’s lawsuit against vouchers in Louisiana: “It’s a good move if Obama is trying to score points with the teacher unions and traditional education establishment, or if he’s trying to extend the reach of the federal government in education. It’s a bad move for the affected kids in Louisiana or if he’s interested in trying to claim bipartisan support for his education agenda.”

On Florida, Common Core and PARCC: “I think it’s likely Florida will drop PARCC. Will be interesting to see what follows. … This is the fascinating thing about the Common Core; for it to deliver on its promise, a ton of stuff has to go right. For it to not deliver, only a couple little things have to go south.”

On a criticism school choice supporters should take to heart: Don’t dismiss suburban parents who don’t want their schools to invite in low-performing students through choice plans. “Choice advocates have denounced such parents and communities, and even implied they’re racist. It might be useful to recognize that they’ve worked hard, played by the rules, and sought to provide their kids a good education … Empathetic reform would start by taking these issues seriously, and asking how to frame a win-win agenda.”

You can replay the chat here: