Words You Won’t Hear From Florida’s Education Policy Makers and Shapers About Charter Schools


Missouri finally had enough of Imagine Schools. After calls from the mayor of St. Louis and the state education commissioner, the Missouri Board of Education voted on Tuesday to close all Imagine Charter Schools in St. Louis. From St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Elisa Crouch:

The move follows months of increasing scrutiny of the schools’ financial, leadership and academic problems. The schools are operated by Virginia-based Imagine Schools Inc., a for-profit charter school management company. Students enrolled at the schools make up about one-third of the city’s charter school population.

State test results from 2011 showed that nearly all students at the city’s Imagine schools were performing below grade level in reading and math, prompting St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Nicastro to call for the closure of the schools.

In December, their sponsor, Missouri Baptist University, announced it would close two of them — Imagine Academy of Academic Success and Imagine Academy of Cultural Arts — this spring, and place the other four on probation.

On Monday, Missouri Baptist University relinquished its sponsorship of the six charter schools, handing all regulatory authority over to the state. And one day later, the Board of Education voted to close them.

Missouri’s charter school policies are clearly much more prudent than Florida’s as evidenced by the requirement that charter schools have a sponsor. Florida, which has no such requirement, also doesn’t have the same sort of responsible and concerned policy-makers either. Consider this:

State school board member Michael Jones said the children at the Imagine schools “don’t get these years back. We have a legal and moral imperative to act on their behalf.”

In the wake of two closures this week and last summers massive McCay scholarship scandals, Florida’s republican legislators attempted to shove through an irresponsible parent trigger bill and coerce school districts to turn over more property tax revenue to charters -even when they don’t come close to providing the same services. Moreover, Florida’s governor and its education commissioner released some hyper-filtered data which touted charter school success on FCAT.

With Jeb Bush hand-picking members of Florida’s state board and education commissioners and dominating policy, its hard to imagine hearing a response like that of Jones’.

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About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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One Response to Words You Won’t Hear From Florida’s Education Policy Makers and Shapers About Charter Schools

  1. stlgretchen says:

    Bob, here is some additional information on this issue:

    http://www.missourinet.com/2012/04/19/charter-schools-bill-sponsor-hopes-imagine-closures-spark-action/

    What may not be clear to many folks outside of MO is this response from Nicastro and DESE took many, many years and as the representative in the above article stated:

    “This actually needed to happen before this year but I’m glad that the state board took action. Now (passage of a bill) really needs to happen more than anything so that we don’t have another Imagine, or Imagine situation, where a school is able to operate for years and years and years of non-performance, and then the state board feels pressured by the media and pressure from all over to do something to take some action on the schools.”

    I agree with Representative Jones. Although the schools had a university sponsor (Missouri Baptist), oversight was not present and when confronted with the failure (finally), Nicastro basically washed her hands of the matter. She indicated it was not her problem and DESE did not have the authority nor resources to police charter school performance.

    It’s a crime these kids apparently didn’t learn as promised and charter operators and the university sponsor walk away. DESE should have pulled the rug out from under this charter organization and sponsor a long time ago. She DID have that authority; did she close her eyes for all these years? Education reform is not really about education. It’s about making a buck and passing it when it goes south from all parties.

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