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Florida hits a milestone, over three hundred charter schools have failed.

According to the FLDOE the total is 308. Think about that, 308 charter schools have taken public money and then closed leaving families and communities in a lurch. Untold millions of dollars wasted and thousands and thousands of lives interrupted.

Then according to a June 26th article in the Tampa Times of the 657 remaining one in six of them either are running a debt or  "had material weaknesses with their internal financial controls."

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/one-in-eight-florida-charter-schools-facing-deficits-audit-shows/2235220

Heck two have closed already this school year, not calendar year but school year which began for most of the state just days ago.

Furthermore most of the ones that are doing well are part of for profit chains that more and more are setting up shop in neighborhoods that already have successful public schools siphoning away resources from them and the Stanford Credo says that as group they under perform when compared to public schools.

I know our public schools have issues but it's time we realized the cure of charter schools is worse than the disease.



Eric Fresen's Just Because

Most people won’t care what a state representative from south Florida says or does unless they live in south Florida.  That however would be a mistake especially when it comes to Miami’s Eric Fresen because what he says and does affects us all.  

Fresen is one of the most powerful men in Tallahassee and despite the fact his family owns and operates charter schools he often votes on charter school legislation that is favorable to the industry. When asked why charter schools should be allowed to open in neighborhoods with thriving and successful schools, hurting them by siphoning away resources, Fresen said in the Sun Sentinel,    "I would never put a facility above the academic options of children."

There you have it, he thinks we should have charter schools, “just because.” Not because they do a better job, the Stanford Credo the definitive charter schools study said they do not and not because they are needed either as more and more charter schools, many of which are managed by for profit management companies are setting up in neighborhoods that already have great schools, but “just because”.

In Florida over 295 have taken public money and failed leaving families and communities in a lurch and this includes two already this school year, not calendar year mind you but since school started a couple weeks ago.

Finally, please don’t let the words “school choice” fool you, its privatization that Fresen and his friends want, and not for the sakes of our children but for the sakes of their bank accounts. It is way past time we reined in the charter industry. As a group charters do more harm than good.


Vitti nails it on test accountabiliy

Inexplicably the group charged with finding out if Florida's tests were valid, despite a mountain or problems and concerns came back and said it was. Superintendent Vitti disagreed and he was exactly right.

From the Times Union:  Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said in a statement the department will be able to use this year’s test scores in calculating school grades.

Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti was less kind in his assessment of the test and its analysis.
“There was never a question of whether the FSA was aligned to the new standards and therefore was valid in that sense,” said Vitti. “Unfortunately, a validation study did not address what was at the center of concerns for parents, teachers, and administrators...that the use of FSA for the purposes of school grades, retention, and teacher/administrator evaluation was unfair, illogical, impractical, and defied best practice regarding proper field testing. In other words, the use of the results to make decisions about students’ future and the performance of schools, teachers, and administrators.
“The FDOE and the State of Florida missed the opportunity to make the right decision,” Vitti said. “As a result, the legacy of a needed and strong accountability system for our students will continue to be questioned. I only hope now that the test will remain the same and the measures to define proficiency and growth after this year’s changes remain the same for the purposes of consistency and transparency. If this does not happen, then Florida’s accountability system is doomed.
This study will end up doing more harm than good. Them coming back and saying the study was valid despite a mountain of evidence that says it wasn't just goes to show what a joke and how corrupt the accountability system is.
I think Vitti nailed it except at the end, because the system is already doomed.

Only one in four students who received a voucher was zoned to a D or F graded school

According to Florida State University, who studies the state voucher program, three in four students who receive vouchers have chosen to leave successful public schools. You should read that again and let it sink in.  

It means that only one in four students who received a voucher was zoned to go to a D or F graded school. It also means that seventy five percent of students who received vouchers chose to leave the public school system for a reason that has nothing to do with academics.

Since nearly three quarters of schools that receive vouchers are religious schools, getting a religious education is probably the biggest reason why. I don’t think there is anything wrong with kids getting a religious education, I do however think there is a problem when it is paid for with money diverted from the state treasury.

Voucher schools by the way do not have to have certified teachers, recognized curriculums, and have barely any accountability measures, both financially and academically in place.

For years vouchers were sold as a program designed to save poor children from failing public schools, well we now know that is not the case, so why do we still have them?


When is an invalid test valid? When it is taken in Florida.

And we paid six hundred thousand dollars for this study.

From the Orlando Sentinel: A "validity study" of the Florida Standards Assessments, or FSA, found the test is reliable and an accurate measure of whether students mastered state academic standards.

FSA data can be used fairly in teacher evaluations and to calculate A-to-F grades for public schools, the study concluded. But the study also found FSA's 2015 debut to be troubled and said students who took its computer-based exams should face a "hold harmless" policy.

That means a scores on those exams should not be used as the sole factor in critical decisions like whether they are promoted or granted a diploma.


So it can be used to grade schools and teachers but not kids? Um what???

From the News Press: Testing problems run rampant A portion of these issues stem from the computerized version of the test, which was taken by 2.4 million students. This includes tech glitches that caused student sign-in problems, alleged cyber attacks on the system and a problematic software upgrade by American Institutes for Research, the company charged with administering the exam. 

The study indicates that while districts reported a “significant number of students” being impacted by testing problems, state data shows that only 1 to 5 percent of students on each exam were affected by these disruptions.

“The precise magnitude of the problems is difficult to gauge with 100 percent accuracy, but the evaluation team can reasonably state that the spring 2015 administration of the FSA did not meet the normal rigor and standardization expected with a high-stakes assessment program like the FSA,” the study revealed.


But hey what’s a few rampant problems among friends.

From the Tampa Times: They pointed to a finding in the report that, for some subjects, only 65 percent of questions were aligned to state standards. Several questions focused on Utah standards, where the test was sampled, the report stated.
It recommended replacing those items.
Stewart said a team of content experts in her department culled many items from the tests because of such issues, and the process will continue.

But hey sixty five percent is good enough for Florida. Despite all of above and more the test was found valid.

Excuse my language but what the f&*k!

Eric Fresen says we should have charter schools just because.

First you should all know the Fresen's family owns and operates charter schools.

Now I will just let his words do the talking for him.

Fresen was less eager to remedy another School Board concern: the proliferation of charter schools opening near A-rated district schools in western communities. 
He said new charter schools won't open if they don't see a market. "You would think if a school is so good already, nothing is needed, but when something new comes in, everyone ends up doing well," he said. "Sometimes schools can get comfortable." 
Board member Laurie Rich Levinson argued that it's not a good use of public resources, especially if new charter schools leave traditional schools half-empty. 
Fresen countered, "I would never put a facility above the academic options of children."
You see who cares if charters waste money or don't do as well, as long as families have a choice. Oy vey, how to self absorbed mercenaries like this get elected? 
Also charter school don't think abut whats best for children, they think how can we make a profit and its disgusting especially since as Levinson put it they often end u doing more harm than good.

A round up of what the state board of education is up to.

Everybody should be alarmed by what the state board of education has proposed.

First the State board proposed spending seventy million dollars on charter school maintenance and another seventy million dollars on public school maintenance costs.  Sadly this is better than in some years past when charters got a hundred million and public schools didn’t get anything.

There are a little over six hundred charter schools, there would have been more but as of last count 295 have taken public money and failed leaving families and communities in a lurch and a little over 3,200 public schools in Florida. It hardly seems fair to allocate the same amount of money for both groups of schools but it gets even worse. Many charter schools are managed by for profit companies and business has been very good. Why should we send more money to them, money that will either go to help their bottom line or fix buildings that don’t belong to the public?  For profit management companies that operate charter schools should not see one penny more than the per pupil allotment.

Speaking of charter schools when asked why charter schools should be allowed to set up in neighborhoods that have successful public schools, Representative Eric Fresen, one of the most powerful men in Tallahassee, and like local business men and board of education member Gary Chartrand, has close ties to charter schools, said in the Sun Sentinel, "I would never put a facility above the academic options of children."

This basically means he thinks we should have charter schools “just because”. Not because they do better because the Stanford Credo the definitive charter schools study said Florida’s charter schools when compared to public schools do worse and not because they are needed either because more and more charter schools many of which are managed by for profit management companies are setting up in neighborhoods that already have great schools siphoning away resources from them, but “just because”.

Next I hope you like School Vouchers that send kids to private schools, of which over seventy percent are religious, because if you own property in the state of Florida you are about to pay for them.  The state board of education proposed raising school funding by 485 million dollars but only fifty millions of this is going to come from the state and the rest is going to be generated by higher property taxes.  

That 435 million dollar figure in increased property taxes is important because that number is nearly identical to the four hundred million plus that is diverted from the state coffers to pay for vouchers.

Maybe vouchers were acceptable to some despite the fact the schools that receive them have barely any financial and academic accountability when somebody else was paying for them. I wonder how acceptable they will be, now that we all have to.

I for one would rather see public money sent to public schools, rather than see money earmarked for the public good diverted to private schools especially since it means my taxes are going to go up to pay for it.

Then speaking of vouchers, Florida State University which was contracted by the state to study the voucher program released its report which said only twenty-five percent of students who receive vouchers leave D or F public schools. That means the vast majority of them leave successful schools. We’re not helping poor and mostly minority escape failing schools, how the program was initially sold, instead we’re paying for families “choice” to have their kids get a religious education. So much for the first amendment right.

Finally Gary Chartrand who as I mentioned above is on the state board of education, said he wants to revisit the class size amendment calling the law foolish. Mr. Chartrand despite his position on the board was never a teacher and doesn’t understand how large class sizes hurt education but furthermore it is worse because he sent his children to exclusive private schools that tout their smaller classes. Why are manageable classes okay for his kids but not for ours?

Like many in positions of power in Tallahassee Gary Chartrand doesn’t feel like he has to listen to the will of the people who have voted twice now for the class size amendment. He is right though we should revisit it but not to get rid of it like he wants but to make sure it is in place like the people voted for. Tallahassee has eroded it so much that many non-core classes which includes Advanced Placement classes and electives have huge numbers and some districts are ignoring it because it is cheaper to pay a fine.

Instead of allowing Chartrand and Tallahassee to further gut the class size amendment we should demand they obey the will of the people and fund it properly because if they don’t then it is time we stopped pretending we lived in a democracy where the people’s votes matter.   

The state board of education, which does not have a true educator on it often does things contrary to the best interests of public schools which means the vast majority of Florida’s children and families pay the price. Shouldn’t we have a board that looks to improve public education rather than one that one that continuously seeks to privatize our schools and injure it?


I think we should.

I hope you like school vouchers, because you are about to start paying for them.

I hope you like School Vouchers that send kids to private schools, of which over seventy percent are religious, because if you own property in the state of Florida you are about to for them.  The state board of education proposed raising school funding by 485 million dollars but only fifty millions of this is going to come from the state and the rest is going to be generated by higher property taxes.  

That 435 million dollar figure in increased property taxes is important because that number is nearly identical to the four hundred million plus that is diverted from the state coffers to pay for vouchers.

Maybe vouchers were acceptable to some despite the fact the schools that receive them have barely any financial and academic accountability when somebody else was paying for them. I wonder how acceptable they will be, now that we all have to.

I for one would rather see public money sent to public schools, rather than see money earmarked for the public good diverted to private schools many of which are religious and have very little accountability both financially and academically especially since it means my taxes are going to go up to pay for it.

Gary Chartrand a millionaire advocated educating children on the cheap.

The League of Women Voters made a great point about Gary Chartrand the other day. Chartrand wrote an opinion piece that appeared in several news paers around the state which said we should have vouchers because if the students that took them returned to public schools pubic schools wouldn't be able to afford them.

That's right this Bard of Education member thinks it is a better plan to have kids go to unregulated schools that have practicality zero accountability and siphon hundreds of millions out of public schools than give public schools the resources they need.

From the League of Women Voters, hartrand makes a case that getting children from poor families out of public schools saves the rest of us money.  There may be another not so hidden agenda that Chartrand forgets to mention.
In a Tampa Bay Times column, Chartrand lists the following arguments in support of using tax credits for corporations who divert their taxes to private school scholarships.  He objects to the Florida Education Association lawsuit on the subject.  He argues that:
  • 78,000 mostly minority students would hit the schools if the tax credit vouchers went away.
  • Florida is projected to add 100,000 students over the next five years.  Building schools would cost at least $1.3 billion even if under enrolled public schools were filled.
  • Tax credit vouchers cover 80% of the per student funding public schools receive.  So, if those children entered public schools, it would cost $111 million more to make up the difference.
  • Tax credit scholarship are aimed at students of limited means. Their average household income is $24,000.  (Of course, the income cap for eligibility was much lower until last year.)
  • Corporate tax credits saves Floridians $1.44 for every dollar in credits corporations contribute to private schools.  (A smoke and mirrors view?)
There is another way to look at these numbers.
  • 78,000 mostly minority students are in schools with no standards or accountability.  Florida has abandoned them.
  • Only 12% of these children come from schools graded ‘D’ or ‘F’ according to the David Figlio report commissioned by the Florida Department of Education.
  • An April 2015 Orlando Sentinel article reports that half of the schools have under 100 students and hundreds of the 1100 schools have under 50 students.
  • The DOE reports that 73% of the private schools that take FTC scholarships tend to be very small religious schools.  In 2013, 127 taught creationism.
  • Public schools are under enrolled in low income areas due to vouchers and charters.  The vacancies make public schools less able to meet student needs, and the private schools cannot afford to even try.  Dividing up the money this way only ensures no sector has enough to do the job.
  • The law suit was filed when the legislature raised the income eligibility to $62,000.  This, for most Florida families, is not low.
  • Saving money on the education of students who needs are greater than most has visible consequences.    The Florida DOE Figlio reports show that achievement is not improved for students with tax credit vouchers.
  • Private and charter school real estate companies or churches are the big beneficiaries of school choice. The public pays for privately owned facilities.  Money comes out of already low salaries and benefits for teachers in those scchools.  The private sector makes millions; the children lose.

Gary Chartrand a grocer by trade who spared no expense to send his kids to exclusive private schools that don't accept vouchers is once again on the wrong side of whats best for our children.

Superintendent Vitti once again shows his deference to charter schools.

Superintendent Vitti had a real opportunity in the Times Union today to stick up for public schools and push back against charter schools. When news of the charter school at Murray hill was closing hit, he could have said, the district will work hard to get rid of charter schools that provide duplicate services, siphon away resources and that do a poor job when compared to the district’s schools.

Instead he shrugged his shoulders and said, “It speaks to the level of collaboration that should exist between districts and charters.” This after the district allowed two poor performing sister schools, which are also  for profit, to continue.

The district should ask itself one question when approving and/or allowing charter schools to exist and that is, can they do a better job than the district. If that’s the case the district should be as helpful as possible but if not and friends the vast majority of times the answer is no they can’t, then the district should do all they can to get rid of them.   
Wouldn’t you rather have a superintendent willing to fight tooth and nail for our kids and schools or one who thinks it is okay to partner with mercenaries and charlatans that do worse? I know I would rather have one wiling to fight.

Are vouchers causing property taxes to grow?

From WJXT: The proposal approved Wednesday by the board would boost spending to $7,209.39 per student, an increase of $104.33, or 1.47 percent, over the current year.

However, only $50 million of the $475.9 million hike in funding would come from the state. The other $425.9 million would come from local property taxes that make up a key part of the formula for education spending. That approach has drawn criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, who equate it to a tax increase.

http://www.news4jax.com/news/education-board-approves-record-funding-request/34944876

Well friends last year the Voucher program diverted over four hundred million dollars from the state coffers and this is a program that is allowed to grow by twenty-five percent a year.

Some people contend that vouchers save money and I will admit it is probably a lot cheaper to run a school that doesn't provide as many services, than it is to run a district but in public schools buses still have to run, teachers have to teach and the lights cost the same whether there is 30 kids in a class or 20.  It diverts resources away and that has costs.

Then why do corporations get this tax break but people don't, you know regular folds like you and me. Why can't we take advantage of it and have the corporations pay their fair share to the state coffers? Oh its because we don't matter.

Vouchers are a bad deal, for children and a bad deal for tax payers.

The Times Union prints anther pro-voucher letter.

Doug Tuthill of Step up for Students the states voucher provider wrote the Times Union to advocate for them and he conveniently left out the millions and millions of dollars in administration fees his organization takes in.

He also left out how vouchers have practically no academic and financial accountability, how the money overwhelmingly goes to religious schools and how since the program is allowed to grow twenty-five percent a year soon it will take a billion dollars out of the state coffers.

In his letter he says vouchers work in harmony with school districts a sentiment not shared by the school board association, the teachers union, the NAACP, the league of women voters and many other organizations but he thinks for some reason, he is right and all the parties actually involved in education are wrong.

If he believes in them so much then why doesn't he have his boss Tampa millionaire John Kirtley who first donated to and then later hired school board member Jason Fischer who has advocated for charters and vouchers while ignoring the schools in the district he is supposed to represent use his money rather than money meant to benefit us all to pay for them?

The plain and simple of the matter is the school vouchers he advocates for and which circumnavigates the Constitution are a bad deal.

No oversight for Duval's charter school lotteries

As you know I have real questions about how the KIPP charter schools says they have a wait list while the district says they have never met their max enrollment. Another concern would be how they don't backfill either.

So I reached out to the district to see if they supervised KIPP's lottery and they told me they didn't supervise their or any charter school's lottery. Later however they might review their paperwork.

So as you can see we are just taking their word for how things are done. And remember some of these charter schools were using the district's computer system to recruit kids to go to their schools.

WHAT THE F^%K 

Oy vey people, now I wonder what kind of oversight in any capacity we have and let me remind you that last year two charter schools failed here mid year sending the school district and families scrambling.

Over 293 charter schools have failed. 14 in Jax, 4 in the last couple years.
Most have very little in the form of innovation.
As a group they don't perform any better, most here locally do worse.
Then finally since we expanded charters by 300 percent over the last few years the district grade has dropped to a C.

It's like we don't even care.

Gary Chartrand's class size hypocrisy

From the Tampa Times: Discussing legislative priorities for the coming session, some Florida Board of Education members renewed their desire to see the 2002 class size amendment scaled back in its application.
Calling the law "foolish," board member Gary Chartrand said he would urge lawmakers to take steps to make it easier for schools to measure class size as a school-wide average rather than a classroom count. He suggested a measure to apply penalties at the school average level -- simiilar to a bill that did not make its way through the spring 2015 session.
"I've been talking about this since I came on the board four years ago," Chartrand said. "I want to make sure I'm vocal on my issue.
Gary Chartrand who has never taught so he has no idea what a few extra kids in an already crowded classroom would be like also sent his children to an exclusive private school that touted its small classes, but hey that's his kids. Our kids can get packed in like sardines. Oh and screw the will of the people who voted for it twice and evidence which says it works.  
He also proposed today we give charter schools many of which are for profit a free seventy million today.
Here is an idea, instead of sending hundreds of millions to private schools and charters lets properly fund the class size amendment. 
This guy is the villain of the story.

Gary Chartrand and his crony capitalism

State board of education member Gary Chartrand, who has close ties to charter schools wants the state of Florida to spend seventy million dollars on charter school maintenance and another seventy million dollars on public school maintenance costs.  Sadly this is better than in some years past when charters got a hundred million and public schools didn’t get anything.

There are a little over six hundred charter schools hand a little over 3,200 public schools in Florida. It hardly seems fair to allocate the same amount of money for both groups of schools but it goes even worse. Many charter schools are managed by for profit companies and business has been very good. Why should we send more money to them, money that will either go to help their bottom line or fix buildings that don’t belong to the public?  


For profit management companies that operate charter schools should not see one penny more than the per pupil allotment. I thought republicans were supposed to be against crony-capitalism.