There were some interesting exchanges when state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, stopped by the Broward County School Board this week (see the video here). One dealt with the role of charter schools in Florida’s education system, and why parents might choose them even when their children already go to an A-rated school.
School board member Laurie Rich Levinson questioned the purpose of charter schools that open in the vicinity of district schools where students are already doing well.
“They’re going to open in areas where we have our highest-performing schools, where there’s not a need for a charter school,” she said. If charter schools open right down the street from a high-performing school, “what are we achieving?”
Fresen responded with a case study from Broward’s neighbor the south, Miami-Dade. Charters have opened in Coral Gables, where most existing public schools were already high-performing. Now, he said, while A-rated charter schools may draw students from A-rated district schools, all the schools have been forced to step up their game. District schools now offer language and international-baccalaureate programs they might not have otherwise.
In other words, competition from private and charter schools, which is more intense in Miami-Dade than in most Florida districts, may be adding to the school choice “tsunami” in South Florida. Continue Reading →