Why Did One Lee County Charter School’s Grade Plunge?

The Fort Meyers News-Press wants to know  about the remarkable drop in the school grade of a local charter school:

The shocking plunge of Lee Charter Academy from the A grade the state gave it for three straight years to an F this year demands answers.

Violent fluctuations in the grades raise questions about whether testing is being administered properly, or whether the testing system itself is reliable – or both.

The Florida Department of Education has been investigating three teachers for at least six months, according to Academy Principal Shirley Chapman. Lee schools Chief Academic Officer Connie Jones confirmed the investigation related to state testing.

The education department must explain itself. We encourage new Lee County schools Superintendent Joseph Burke, who starts his job today, to get to the bottom of this and inform the public.

It’s not been a pleasant past 24 hours for Florida charter schools and its most prominent cheerleaders, Rick Scott and Jeb Bush. Scott learned yesterday that the charter school where he signed his education reform bill received an “F” while Bush’s “Florida Way”  presentation for state legsilatures was thoroughly smacked down by a well-respected think tank.

The shadow of cheating falls upon the Lee Charter Academy as the News-Press reveals three teachers are under investigation for testing-related issues. As no more information is given, one can only speculate on the nature of both the investigation but the test scores as well.

But if those of us who believe that poverty matters in outcomes, Lee Charter Academy provides just that.

Historically, high-minority and low-income schools get lower test scores. About 93 percent of Academy students are eligible for the federal government’s free and reduced-price lunch program, the measure of student poverty

This is an astonishing percentage of impoverished kids in one building, so the failing grade doesn’t surprise professional educators. Only among the “no-excuses” crowd are such numbers mocked and dismissed.

Cheating and demographics aside, Floridians are getting more evidence that charters are not the sort of panacea that school reformers what them to believe.





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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6 Responses to Why Did One Lee County Charter School’s Grade Plunge?

  1. Sandra says:

    Thank you for posting this important information.

  2. Ernest Colby says:

    I volunteered many hours of academic instruction at Lee Charter Academy and I explained to the School Board exactly how they were cheating years ago when they first went from F to D rating. Shortly afterward they received the first of three A ratings and no one said a word.

    The School Board knew I was a serious person because previously the Inspector General of the FL Dep of Ed. personally demanded the Superintendant and Board Chair investigate my allegations of illegal corporal punishment to which Principal Chapman confessed in the News-Press.

    I’ve heard the principal has felony convictions unrelated to this. Someone needs to dig deeper.

    Lee Schools knew LCA was cheating long ago. All the emails I exchanged with Bd. member Jane Kuckel and others will prove it to any journalist who wishes to publish the truth…not likely.

    I don’t know who these “3 teachers under investigation” are but I can tell you Shirley Chapman is the big fish in a small pond and NOTHING happens there without her “say so”. Her loyal henchmen are Tiffany Tonge and Teresa Furlough. Speaking from extensive first hand knowledge of how things work there, I’d bet my last dime these are the three people being investigated.

    Shirley said “the school is not being investigated” which is to imply SHE is not being investigated. Don’t believe it News-Press readers!

    If the News-Press didn’t completely SUCK they would have asked why and how a teacher would cheat without the complicity of the principal. They further didn’t challenge her on how she knows the school (ie. her) is not being investigated.

    Shoddy journalism plays a central role on how tragedies like this can go on year after year.

    Jane Kuckel and Jeanne Dozier knew about this years ago and they are both up for re-election.

  3. Ernest Colby says:

    By the way, it was Charlie Crist, not Rick Scott who signed legislation at LCA.

  4. Ernest Colby says:

    Ed Futures, who owns Lee Charter Academy, is now being given a second school by Lee County. It is set to open in days.

    Talk about a bunch of scum bags who don’t give a rat’s ass about children, especially minority children…the School Board of Lee County is loaded with IGNORANT BIGOTS!

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