The curious opposition against Polk county schools desire to open its own at-risk charter schools ended yesterday. Writes Merissa Green in the Lakeland Ledger:
BARTOW | The Polk County School District got the go-ahead today to open six charter schools for at-risk students.
Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson told The Ledger that the Board of Education and his department have approved giving the identification numbers the School District needed.
“We’re very interested in seeing how everything evolves,” Robinson said. ‘‘The FLDOE looks forward to seeing the results.”
Robinson became involved after Superintendent of Schools Sherrie Nickell asked him last month the reason for the delay.
The DOE raised concerns about the level of interest from parents and potential teachers. Charter schools typically are driven by parental choice.
Robinson, a proponent of charter and magnet schools, revealed he was under pressure on the Polk initiative when he told Polk superintendent Sherrie Nickel that “there seems to be something coloring the issue.”
Was Rep. Kelli Stargel meddling in the issue?
State Rep. Kelli Stargel, who is a member of the House Education Committee, told The Ledger in June that although taking struggling students out of the regular student population would probably increase the schools’ grades from the state, she worries about the oversight of the 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. Stargel, R-Lakeland, said there are better ways of serving that student population, including setting up career academies instead of charter schools.
Stargel is over-stepping the boundaries of her office. She passes laws which establishes policy. Robinson and the state and local board’s implement policy and provide oversight. Stargel, who takes campaign money from big charter school interests, had no business inserting herself into the Polk issue. She’s opened herself up to having her motives questioned.