Miami-Dade County, Fla. – Dec. 17, 2018 – A solid majority of Miami-Dade County voters believe public charter school student and teachers deserve their fair share of tax dollars from the recently passed property tax referendum, according to a poll commissioned by the Florida Charter School Alliance (FCSA). An even bigger majority agreed voters could have been misled by the vagueness of the ballot language, and that the ballot question should have been clear on whether charter school students and teachers would be included.
“The Alliance is speaking up on behalf of the more than 68,000 Miami-Dade County public charter school students, their parents and teachers,” said Lynn Norman-Teck, FCSA Executive Director and charter school parent of two. “Public charter schools have been a vital part of Florida’s K-12 public education system for more than 20 years. The students who choose to attend a public charter school, magnet program, or any other public choice education program shouldn’t be punished for exercising their right to school choice and not attending their zoned school. Their safety and well-being is as important as that of their peers at district-run schools.”
On Nov. 6, Miami-Dade voters approved an increase in property tax to benefit campus security initiatives at public schools and funding for teacher salary increases. Referendum dollars will raise an estimated $232 million in the first year alone. Right now, though, it looks as if the more than 68,000 students who attend a public charter school, and their teachers, will be excluded from the referendum funding formula. It’s not clear whether the Miami Dade School Board also plans to exclude students and teachers
at district-managed charter schools, like Downtown Doral Charter Elementary, or other choice programs like magnet schools, from the tax referendum distribution formula.
Since 1996, the Miami-Dade County School Board’s approval of high-quality charter school applications has allowed charter schools to be among the many public educational options available to families. Many charter schools are ranked among the best schools in the state and have earned national recognition for raising student achievement and graduation rates, especially among minority students.
The poll commissioned by FCSA, a non-profit charter school support and advocacy organization, was conducted by National Victory Strategies. It surveyed more than 400 registered voters. More than 48 percent of respondents identified as Democrat, 34 percent as Republican. Among the findings:
- 48 percent had a favorable opinion of public charter schools
- 57 percent support the inclusion of public charter school students and teachers in the distribution of tax funds if they knew there would be strict accountability, and tax funds would only be used for student safety improvements and teachers’ salaries.
- 72 percent agree that voters could have been misled by the vagueness of the ballot language and that ballot question should have been clear and detailed on whether charter school students and teachers would be included.
- 76 percent said they were not aware whether public charter school students and teachers would be included or excluded in the distribution of the tax funds.
- 52 percent support the Legislature and Governor stepping in on behalf of public charter school students and teachers to ensure that the tax funds are divided equally.
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