Legislation unveiled this week in the Florida House — and tied to a new $200 million funding proposal — aims to move students from “persistently low-performing schools” to “schools of success” run by charter school operators with proven track records.
At the start of the legislative session, House Speaker Richard Corcoran vowed to eliminate “failure factories,” struggling schools that borrow a moniker from a Pulitzer-winning series in the Tampa Bay Times.
Until now, it had been unclear exactly how his intention would translate into legislation.
The House Education Committee is set to hear the proposed bill Thursday morning. It would set more aggressive requirements for turning around academically struggling public schools. If schools earned Ds or Fs from the state, their districts would have to begin implementing turnaround plans immediately, submitting them to state officials in September, months after school grades were released.
If those schools didn’t raise their grades to a C in a few years, districts would have to make bigger changes: Closing the school, converting it to a charter, or bringing in an outside operator.
As lawmakers heard during hearings earlier this year, those options are available to Florida school districts under the state’s existing school improvement law. But they seldom take those measures on their own. An ultimatum from the State Board of Education recently led to the Jefferson County School board choosing a charter operator to take over its persistently struggling schools, but that district’s actions are unprecedented.