Posted January 5, 2018 06:16 pm – The Florida Times Union
The Duval County School Board is among 13 statewide that recently filed a lawsuit challenging legislation that creates equal funding for charter schools.
As a former educator and father of a child attending a charter school, I am baffled by the districts’ claim that charters aren’t entitled to public construction dollars and other support provided by House Bill 7069.
Local governments are responsible for providing an education to Florida’s children, but this doesn’t mean they must produce the curriculum and manage the schools themselves. By providing alternatives to district schools, charters allow “managed competition,” empowering parents to select the schools that are best for their children. This promotes efficiency, effectiveness and innovation.
Charters are allowed flexibility with state rules, but are vigorously held accountable for outcomes. Charters close if they receive failing grades or don’t meet parents’ expectations, something that can’t be said of district schools.
I experienced the value of charters when my family returned to Jacksonville this year.
My 9-year-old was excelling in a private Baltimore school, but I wanted to give the Duval district a try.
It took three weeks before my wife and I yanked him out.
As a third-grader in Baltimore, my son had completed fifth-grade math and tested college-ready in reading.
But when he started fourth grade in Duval, teachers ignored his capabilities and kept his assignments at grade level. They appeared to be threatened by parental involvement, and became antagonistic when suggestions were made.
We decided to enroll our son at Duval Charter School at Flagler Center, where we found teachers to be enthusiastic and supportive. They welcomed collaboration with parents. They developed class work to meet my son’s needs. He is again doing advanced work.
Unlike his district school, my son’s charter is A-rated. I have to ask, “How does Duval Charter at Flagler Center, which receives 70 percent of the per-pupil funding of district schools, still provide a superior education?” This suggests a bloated school district.
The lawsuit against HB 7069 isn’t about improving education in Florida. The goal is perpetuating the existing inequitable distribution of education funding, and restricting parents’ options.
William Voorhees, Jacksonville
Voorhees was director of Revenue and Tax for the city of Baltimore, a professor of Public Finance and Management at CUNY and Arizona State University.