Charter school issues returning to Fla. Constitution Revision Commission

Travis Pillow

Next week, the panel rewriting Florida’s constitution could approve one or two charter school-related measures for the November ballot.

The first would free the state Legislature to create new types of charter school authorizers. Right now, courts have ruled only school districts can sponsor charter schools. This makes Florida something of an outlier. Of the 44 states that allow charter schools, 35 allow a statewide board, public universities or other organizations to oversee charters.

The proposal is part of P. 6003, sort of an omnibus K-12 public education measure. In addition to the charter school provisions, it would elevate civic literacy as a state priority and impose eight-year term limits on school board members.

Meanwhile, a second proposal would extend charter-like freedoms to school districts. It would require the Legislature to create a process allowing high-performing districts to apply to the state for “innovation district” status. If approved, they would be able to ask for waivers from certain state laws.

P. 6008 would build on the state’s new principal autonomy and Schools of Excellence programs, which free certain district schools from state education laws. It would also build on the thinking behind a personalized learning initiative, where some participating schools and districts say the state’s existing laws create barriers.

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