Florida Today has a tidy little checklist of favors the state’s legislators have been granting the state’s charter schools:
This year lawmakers unfairly axed $122 million in maintenance money for the state’s 3,000 traditional public schools, among other cuts, but handed charters $55 million for construction and repair.
Brevard Public Schools received $4.2 million in maintenance funds last year, but zero for 2011-12, according to Associate Superintendent of Financial Services Judy Preston. The money typically is used for air conditioning repairs, painting, plumbing and other renovation and badly needed.
Other sweeteners lawmakers gave to charters, while cutting $3 billion from the overall education budget, include:
— Reducing from 5 percent to 2 percent the administrative fees districts will be paid for a charter’s first 250 students, if the school is certified under a new law as highly performing. As many as 5 Brevard charters could qualify.
If so, the district could lose a little more than $200,000, requiring deeper cuts elsewhere in its budget, says Preston.
— Making it harder for districts, who must pick up the pieces when charters fail, to turn down the non-traditional schools’ applications or to close them when they are poorly run.
— Clarifying that charters can refuse to admit students in some cases if they don’t meet standards, unlike traditional schools.
They’re not even trying to hide it with clever wording. This is akin to giving money to UPS and Fed Ex while cutting that amount from the US postal service. After detailing instances of failing charters throughout the state, Florida Today calls the state’s legislators on it:
The first responsibility of lawmakers, as required by the state Constitution, is to provide adequate funding for a uniform, high quality school system for all.
Instead, in their bias toward unproven charters, they are draining traditional schools of due dollars.
It’s a plan that flunks the test for improving education and helping Florida’s children succeed.
So why so biased?
As none of the state’s policy-makers have answered specifically, they are open to the assumption that they just plain want to privatize schools. Pay no attention to the fact that so many charters have failed. They know those folks will eventually figure out how to make the numbers work.