Is Moraitis HB 377 Charter School Bill Inspired By ALEC?

Rep. George Moraitis will be asked sometime this week why he left out any mention of “charter schools” in HB 377 and instead referred to them as “private, not-for profit elementary, middle and high schools.” Never mind that he filled the bill  as Educational Facilities Financing.

After cutting through Moraitis’ clear attempt to deceive, Floridians will see the creation of permanent financing for; and the establishment of a separate charter school board which will authorize and oversee their function. Moraitis’ bill completely cuts out the Florida Department of Education, local school districts and boards, and even the state BOE. It’s the Holy Grail of the for-profit charter school industry.

It’s noteworthy that Moraitis was the sponsor of last year’s charter school land grab bill which was billed as a special charter school accountability bill. Like last year’s bill, Moraitis bill follows guidelines that are established by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Consider this from ALEC’s 2011 Charter School Growth and Accountability Act.

Section 3. {Statewide Public Charter School Commission Established}

(A) This Act establishes a state public charter school commission (the “Commission”) as an independent state agency with statewide chartering jurisdiction and authority.

(B) The mission of the Commission shall be to authorize high-quality public charter schools throughout the state consistent with the intent of this Act.

D) The Commission shall carry out its work consistent with best practices as set forth in Principles and Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing promulgated by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

(E) The Commission is not required to approve any charter application. Denials of such applications, as well as non-renewal and closure decisions rendered by the Commission, are final. The Commission may require an applicant to modify or supplement an application as a condition of approval.

 (F) The Commission is authorized to receive from the state education department not to exceed three percent of the state funds annually flowing to the charter schools it approves and oversees. Such retained monies shall be exclusively used to fund the Commission’s authorizer activities.

(G) An authorizer’s oversight fee shall not include any costs incurred in delivering services that a public charter school may purchase at its discretion from the authorizer. The authorizer shall use its funding provided under this section exclusively for the purpose of fulfilling authorizing obligations in accordance with this Act.

It is likeliest that Moraitis bill was written with the help of lobbyists who write pro-charter school legislation. ALEC’s template is used by the authors while providing clout with legislators like Moraitis.


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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