An agonizing problem for any school district is what to do with their at-risk kids. The state’s professional educators and elected school boards never stop looking for ways to help these children. For these often poor, homeless, with learning disabilities, frequent discipline problems and from fractured families, its been clear for some time that there aren’t any clear-cut solutions or silver bullets.
Polk county is considering seven charter schools dedicated to this difficult student population. One Florida lawmakers doesn’t like the idea and expresses herself in a manner which demonstrates the she and her colleagues are a big part of the problem. Merissa Green writes in the Lakelend Ledger:
BARTOW | State Rep. Kelli Stargel said Friday she doesn’t understand why the Polk County School District needs to create its own charter schools to serve at-risk students.
Stargel said she had a conversation earlier this year with Superintendent of Schools Sherrie Nickell, during which she expressed her reservations about setting up the seven proposed high schools.
Although taking struggling students out of the regular student population would probably increase the schools’ grades from the state, Stargel said she worries about the oversight of the so-called Step Up Academies.
The student population proposed for each of these charters would be too small to meet the criteria to receive a state school grade.
That means no student performance would be tied to teacher or administrator evaluations — a new mandate implemented last year by the Florida Legislature.
Stargel, R-Lakeland, is a member of the House Education Committee, chairwoman of the K-20 Innovation Subcommittee and a member of the Pre-K Through 12 Appropriations Subcommittee.
“Who’s going to follow the accountability of these schools?” she said.
“Who’s going to be accountable to these kids to make sure they are learning?”
Stargel’s two rhetorical questions at the end demonstrates she fully doesn’t understand the ramifications of the laws she’s been voting for. Or maybe she does. Stargel knows these charter schools would operate under the oversight of the Polk School Board. At least that’s the way it used to be before Stargel and her allies dismantled local control of charters through the establishment of a stacked appeals process.
Does Stargel even want the superintendent of Polk schools and the board to even been empowered to make the decision? If she agrees with ed commish Gerard Robinson she doesn’t. Robinson sees school boards as just instruments of the laws Stargel and her republican allies pass. Perhaps Stargel assumes the decision on charter schools in Polk should be hers. So much for “local control of schools.”
Notice Stargel had to use “accountable” and “accountability” in two successive sentences to make her point. She apparently can’t handle the fact that the Polk charter wouldn’t fall underneath either of the suffocating mandates she and her colleagues have passing (School Grades and Teacher Evaluations). I wonder how many times Stargel has used the word “flexibility” in her ed policy mutterings.
Stargel’s showing just how detached she and her colleagues are from what’s happening in the state’s classrooms. Beating people over the head with rhetoric that always includes a version of the word “accountable” has worked for pols like Stargel for some time. But last week’s shove-back from school board members of 67 Florida districts against Stargel’s narrow vision of accountability should serve as a wake-up call.