The FCSA responds to a Florida Times Union article entitled Charter school industry donations prompt questions; millions flow into PACS, campaigns
August 2, 2016 – In just a couple of weeks, all of Florida’s K-12 students will be back at school. And on the first day of school, more than 270,000 students are expected to walk into a public charter school – a school their parents chose, not a school they were assigned to. These parents, not legislators or political alliances, are the true catalyst behind education reform, and the only reason charter schools exist, and continue to grow in number and quality.
A recent article published in the Florida Times Union got a couple of things wrong, and failed to tell the whole story.
- Districts-run schools, not charter schools, receive the bulk of construction dollars including local property taxes (for maintenance, repairs, renovations and remodeling for buildings). In the 2014-15 school year, Florida school districts received $2,405,019,300 in capital outlay (an estimated $1000 per student); public charter schools received $75 million (an estimated $300 per student).
- According to a 2012 Wall Street Journal report, the Florida Education Association spent $14.7 million between 2005-2011 to advocate against education choice and support candidates who feel parents should not have a voice in selecting their child’s school.
- The article incorrectly stated that school districts have limited oversight of charter schools. As a charter school authorizer, a school district has the power to close a charter school for various reasons – including poor academic performance – and continually monitor a charter school’s progress. Moreover, charter schools must provide their district authorizer with regular financial reports and operating updates.
- Charter schools are required to help their students make academic gains – and must continue to show student academic progress to remain open. A 2013-2014 report released by the Florida Department of Education analyzed the academic performance of students attending charter schools as compared to students enrolled at district-run public schools. That data showed that charter schools performed better in 87% of 531 comparisons of reading, math, and science assessment results.
The true influencers of education reform are parents. Parents, not legislative policy or political agenda, fills classroom seats. Parents overwhelmingly support education choice and feel that finding the best education option for their child – whether a district-run public, public charter, or private school – is critical. A national survey of parents with school-age children showed that 78% of parents supported having a charter public school open in their neighborhood, with 73% in support of more charter schools opening nationwide. Support was even greater among low-income parents, with 88 percent of low-income parents in favor of having a charter school in their community. That’s the story the article completely failed to tell.