From Jeffrey Solochek at GRADEBOOK:
Keeping with new state law, the Florida Department of Education has blessed 104 charter schools as “high performing” this year. The appellation grants these schools added powers, making it even more difficult for local school boards to govern them. (See Pasco County’s recent deliberations over a Charter Schools USA application.)
The new abilities granted to these high performers include adding enrollment annually without outside permission, expanding grade levels without sponsor approval, getting 15 year contracts, and opening “replicated” schools anywhere in Florida with minimal barriers. Of course, that replication is limited to one per year, but that hasn’t stopped some operators from proposing several all over the state. Keep an eye on that one.
Which are these “high performing” schools?
They include schools run by or connected to lawmakers, including Rep. John Legg (Dayspring Academy in Pasco) and Rep. Seth McKeel (South McKeel Academy and McKeel Elementary Academy in Polk), Rep. Erik Fresen (several Academica schools in Miami-Dade) and Sen. Anitere Flores (Doral Academy in Miami-Dade).
You can’t make this stuff up.
While the school’s earned their grades through legitimate means, there should be concern that they are allowed to operate under different playing rules than do public schools. How Florida legislators like Legg, Fresen, Flores, and McKeel continue to be allowed to vote on and have influence in legislation of which they financially benefit continues to boggle the mind. Will Florida’s republicans stonewall ethics reform again?