Its Time to Dismiss Florida Charter Schools’ Complaint About Fairness

The administrator for the Cape Coral Charter School Authority says all the right things and speaks with the right jargon to be believable in this morning’s guest column in the Fort Myers News Press. In an attempt to make the case for more taxpayer money going to charter schools like his, Lew Ford writes:

Here is the issue: A tax of 1.5 mills is levied on all Florida residents for the purposes of capital expenses for public schools. The tax used to be 2.0 mills in prior years. Districts use this money to pay for debt service on their buildings, facilities maintenance, and new construction. Florida Statute 1011.71 gives school districts the “discretion” to share this tax with charter schools. Lee County School District does not share this tax.

Most of our “Oasis” parents don’t even realize their taxes don’t support their children. They pay this tax, but the funds do not follow their children; rather, they go to other Lee County schools. We agree with your editorial that this millage rate should not be raised to support charter schools. But we believe that fairness dictates that the funds our parents pay should follow their children. Just return back to our system the funds that our parents are giving to the Lee County schools under the tax structure.

In a predicatble attempt to appeal to voter’s better angels, Dr. Ford plays the “fairness” card. Ford’s otherwise accurate piece leaves out one crucial piece of information that blows his fairness argument out of the water: Florida’s charter schools do not provide the same services as do public schools. Many do not provide transportation and free and or reduced meals. A comprehensive report published last year revealed that 87 percent of state charter schools do no provide services for special needs kids.

While Ford’s assertion that his school is truly non-profit – unlike state charter school behemoths Academica and Charter Schools USA who get enough taxpayer money to spend on political activities – his focused pleading for capital funding from taxpayers for buildings is still incomplete. Few charter schools – if any – maintain structures such as media centers, cafeterias, athletics and physical education.

Perhaps Ford’s argument is most effectively dismissed by the state’s most influential charter school executive. In a May 2011 interview with Gradebook’s Jeff Solochek, Charter Schools USA boss Jonathan Hage said “we believe that charter schools should not get as much per kid as other schools, because we like the idea that we’re being more efficient, more frugal.”  To be fair, Hage was responding to a question about cuts to charter schools. But his acknowledgement that charter schools original intent was to be more cost-effective should serve as a reminder for Rick Scott and state legislators  who never seem to get enough charter school Kool-Aid.


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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4 Responses to Its Time to Dismiss Florida Charter Schools’ Complaint About Fairness

  1. Diane Kepus says:

    Complain as he might, Dr. Ford should focus more on the school I am assuming he is representing. Coral Gables Charter School’s web site is a little behind since it shows no Board of Directors meetings since Feb 2012 – maybe this is why the school’s accountability scores are starting to drop. In 2009-10 they were an A school, 2010-2011 a B rating and there is none shown as of yet for the 2011-12 school year.

    In comparison in 2010 the Board met 3 times, in 2011 5 times and in 2012 so far only once. Now most of us that are concerned about the education of our children do grumble about the school board from time to time but at least they meet once or twice a month – another problem with the legislation – nothing is stated about how often the Charter school Boards are to meet or how many members should be on their boards.

    According to the web site Coral Gables Charter School is in fact part of the large Charter Schools USA consortium and I would like to know exactly how much in salary Dr. Ford is receiving as the administrator since that seems to be one of the main problems with the money flowing through Charter schools all over the country and one of the main reasons they fail let alone the administrators not have the background to fulfill their jobs.

    Also according to their web site it looks like they would have already implemented presenting to the kids CAPS which stands for Cambridge Advanced Professional Studies which like ICLEI has changed it’s name from AICE which represented the Cambridge “Advanced International Certificate of Education”. It like IB or International Baccalaureate are supported by the State of Florida. CAPS is not as expensive as IB but you are now offering our children a socialistic based education which falls in line with the United Nations and we are once again back to a for-profit “public-private partnership” under the leadership of our governor in name only Jeb Bush! If they are having a problem with money – why are they spending the extra funds for a foreign curriculum?

    In fact, the Duval Charter High School is using this program and actually lists it as: Cambridge Advanced Professional Studies/AICE Program. Once again we cannot teach our children with a good American curriculum because our legislators have broken that up into so many pieces you cannot even recognize an American curriculum these days. It is so convoluted not even the teachers know what they are teaching and it is about time they took a stand but then Oh Yes, I forgot, the communist run Unions are behind this mess. It is better to teach them socialism when they don’t know any better.

    Florida needs to step up and start holding those in the state responsible for this mess in Education and that includes the Parents, Teachers, Elected & Appointed Boards and the Criminal Legislators who seen to have made a PROFIT from this “boondoggle of Education” in our state while our children are frailing without a lifeline!

    In fact if our Democrat in actions Attorney General was doing her job, she would be looking into this mess, but then playing Barbie takes a considerable amount of her time too. Just what has she done for the state in the last 2 years but contribute to Fox & Friends?

    FLORIDA IS A MESS – getting close to Chicago!

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  3. MSPoppell says:

    It would be easier to take this piece seriously without the grammatical error in the first word of the title. Its = belonging to it. It’s = it is. The title should read “It’s…

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