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Florida cracks down on charter schools for nepotism and lax financial controls.

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 05:23 PM
Original message
Florida cracks down on charter schools for nepotism and lax financial controls.
The Florida Senate passed a plan Friday to make the 360 charter schools in the state more accountable in their classrooms and in their finances.

Charter-school crackdown advances in Tallahassee

Charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated, would no longer be able to hire and do business with relatives, and they would be forced to communicate students' academic performance even when the state does not give the schools a letter grade. The bill (SB 278) would also authorize school districts and other charter sponsors to terminate a school's contract if its administrators do not correct financial deficiencies.

The measure now heads to the House, where similar legislation failed last year after unanimously passing the Senate. Proponents say this year's version stands a better chance of passing, with support from the charter-school industry and a coalition of House members.

..."The series of articles found a disproportionate number of charter operations were among the worst-performing schools in the state. More than half of all charters reported operating at a loss, and nearly half had financial arrangements with insiders that would not be allowed in regular schools. Some of the schools performed dismally year after year without raising any alarm or any push for change. The state's controls were so few that a Pensacola-area charter rented out its teens for road work for five years.


This kind of school.."which are publicly funded but privately operated"...are the goal of our new Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Money is taken from the traditional public school system and given to experimental schools. Then they demand and shout and yell for the public schools to produce even more.

It's amazing how they have done it since the Reagan years. They have steadily defunded the public schools and demanded more as they took money away. It took a lot of us who were teachers a long time to catch on to their sleight of hand. It did not take long for the people who wanted the corporate world to have a big piece of the pie in the public school system to hold sway. They did a good job in making teachers and public school systems sound bad.

Under Arne Duncan we will probably see the end of public schools as we know them. I am glad Florida is addressing these issues of nepotism and lax financial record keeping.

I have always said that charter schools were a tip of the hat to supporters of deregulation.

Looks like that is not working so well in Florida.

Competition

Two main ideas inform the charter school movement. The first is that competition is an essential ingredient in school improvement. Charters are said to provide that.

The trouble with this argument is that competition doesn't select the best, only the most popular. McDonald's doesn't produce the best-tasting or most-nutritious food, for instance, but its heart attack specials certainly are popular. A second-rate school might prove similarly competitive if it provides a tawdry but reassuring education to the children of the low-information crowd. Fearful your kids will discover you are an ignoramus? Send them to Alpha Charter where they will never learn to doubt.

Deregulation

The second main idea behind charters is that state directives are strangling public school innovations. That's why charters are exempted from many regulations restricting the operations of traditional public schools. The trouble is that deregulation creates opportunities for mountebanks to pilfer the public purse, abuse children, and the like.
As a matter of fact, to the extent that charter operators have freedom of action, the confidence tricksters and bunko artists among them find opportunities for fraud and misuse of public funds. What is more, the politicians (and/or their relatives) who push charters often end up feeding at the charter school trough themselves.


Just look at our economy right now to see what deregulation has wrought.

And then take a look at this video to see nepotism has wrought.

And then say thank you to the Florida Senate for considering policing the charter schools.

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 05:52 PM
Response to Original message
1. Orlando Sentinel: Dems' school reform takes page out of GOP book
I really hate it when an argument for who we are as a party is taken out of our hands because our party is doing the very same thing as the other one. In the area of school reform, that is happening.

I read this at the Orlando Sentinel. It angers me so, but I have to agree.

Dems' school reform takes page out of GOP book

From Mike Thomas's blog. I want to disagree and tell him he is wrong. But he is mostly right.

I've had little success selling Jeb Bush's education reforms to my liberal friends and colleagues. So I am trying something new.

I'm calling them Barack Obama's education reforms.

It took Nixon to go to China, and it could take Obama to bring school reform to Democrats.

"This began as a Republican fringe movement in the 1990s but now is embraced by a growing number of Democrats. Listen long enough to Obama's secretary of education, Arne Duncan, and you'll hear Jeb Bush.

In a recent speech, Duncan noted, "In many situations, our schools are perpetuating poverty and are perpetuating social failure."

Duncan, who ran the Chicago school system, is pushing reforms that include tougher standardized tests, merit pay for good teachers, pink slips for bad teachers and more charter schools to provide competition and innovation. Far from abolishing No Child Left Behind, started under George Bush, Duncan wants to strengthen it."


Everything could be fixed that needs fixing in the public schools. Our new education secretary says our public schools are "perpetuating poverty" and "social failure."

When your own Democratic party leaders say that.....how can you fight back?

I am retired. I don't have to fight the system anymore. But I can still talk about what they have done to public schools in the name of profiting from them.

It's called greed, and greed has no conscience.
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PCIntern Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 05:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. We've got a real winner in Philly....
lots of people probably going to jail...

bald-faced fraud...

Being exposed by reporters at the Inqirer
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 05:59 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I would love some links.
I think we will be hearing more about fraud in Florida.

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DaLittle Kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 08:52 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. The Corruption In The Charter Schools Is Nuth'n New. Legislature Probably Has Hand In The Till
as to why ZERO has been done about it!
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 07:25 PM
Response to Original message
4. Florida passes "charter-reform lite"
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_politics/2009/04/florida-senate-passes-charterreform-lite.html

"TALLAHASSEE -- Prompted by reports of nepotism and lax financial controls, the Florida Senate unanimously passed a plan Friday to put Floridas 360-plus charter schools under some of the same financial regulation as traditional schools.

Among other things, Senate Bill 278 would prevent the privately run, publicly funded campuses from hiring and doing business with family members -- a common practice at many of the state's charter schools. It also would allow school districts to intervene sooner when charters get into financial trouble.

The sponsor, Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, launched the reforkm last year after an Orlando Sentinel series reported on insider dealings, lax oversight and academic struggles at some charter schools. The Senate passed a tougher version of the charter oversight reform last year, but opposed by charter groups, it died in the House of Representatives.

Gaetz said Friday the measure brought needed reforms to the finiancial oversight of charter schools without preventing them from innovating enough to teach kids.

But teachers union lobbyists werent thrilled by the final product."


This is an educational experiment using public school money. It will be a lot of harm done to our students if the experiment fails.
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RebelOne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 07:28 PM
Response to Original message
5. My daughter teaches in a charter school in South Florida
and I don't think that she is aware of this.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. It's ok.
Charter schools are the new future. Teachers who see the harm in bringing in private management, in accepting tens of millions from groups like Wal Mart...are not going to be heard on the topic.

The DLC has pushed for charter schools for many years. They are getting their wish now.

I am sure there are some good ones. But you can't take money from a public school and then tell them to do better. They can't do better if you defund them.

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Mithreal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 09:00 PM
Response to Original message
8. K&R nt
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 10:56 PM
Response to Original message
9. Three Broward County charter schools may be given a year to shape up.
I know several in our county have been closed or are on the verge of it.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/schools/sfl-charter-school-renewal-b4270sbapr27,0,6947119.story

"It is contract renewal time for four Broward County Click here for restaurant inspection reports charter schools, but three of the new agreements come with this stipulation: You have one year to get your act together or close.

Charter School Institute and Training Center and Imagine at North Lauderdale's elementary and middle schools have academic as well as financial problems, according to school district documents. They've got a June 30, 2010, deadline to fix them.

....Collectively, the three schools are almost $3 million in the red. The North Lauderdale schools failed to follow their state-required plans to fix their money problems plans put in place in 2006. Charter School Institute didn't pay its payroll taxes on time for two years and was recently evicted from its Hallandale Beach location for not paying rent. The school also has a North Lauderdale location.

Academically, the schools' FCAT scores either have shown inconsistent results or a decline. The North Lauderdale schools failed to meet federal benchmarks in student achievement since 2004-2005 and were deemed in need of improvement. The three schools educate about 615 students from kindergarten to eighth grade. Most of the students come from the neighborhoods along State Road 7. The district says Charter School Institute has other issues, including not knowing if their bus drivers have valid driver's licenses and not complying with federal food regulations.


It breaks my heart to see the funding diverted from public schools, and then see the failure. People say throwing money at schools doesn't matter.

Of course funding public schools matter. The retired teacher in me is having trouble accepting the imminent demise of the public system of schools while others flounder.
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 11:25 PM
Response to Original message
10. Excellent news! k+r, n/t
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 12:04 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. I agree.
I think there should be watchful eyes on experimental schools like this.

There are sure as hell watchful eyes on public schools.
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 06:20 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Good point.
It seems if the "free market" whines that one of their "experiments" isn't being given "a chance" (read: free reign) they declare the system is stacked against them and cry until they are left completely alone to pull all the crap they want.

And then later, they claim their "experiment" "worked."

I hate privatization in every form.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 06:55 AM
Response to Original message
13. We can look for an "Education Bubble"
Some may have kids in a currently working charter school. Many more have kids in schools that lack regulation and oversight. Just putting the name "Charter" or "Academy" seems to be all that is necessary.

Two years ago everyone thought unregulated banking and investment was a good idea. They were happy with the paper returns. Deregulation doesn't work It lets the fox in the door.

THe charter school crusade is just the opening that the Bernie Madoffs need to begin. They are a bad idea, and the Democrats should not be supporting something that will lower education for the many for the possible benefit of a few. Especially since the reality is that even those few who think they are getting those great returns will wake up to a bankrupt education 401K eventually.

We are selling our kids.

Again.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Good points.
Call it an academy, and they will beat down your doors. That's a real magic name.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 02:19 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Words like that appeal
to people's sense of being a part of the elite. It's like the term Gifted. If you opened a private school and called it Academy for Gifted Leaders of Tomorrow, you would clean up. You could spend the whole day watching cartoons and still have full rosters.


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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-30-09 12:56 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. Ah, gifted. I have one or two points define that term
It's a great word, but when the testing is being done it's ridiculous.

I remember one year when on a certain test you could get 129 and not be gifted....score 130 and then qualify for all the good stuff.

:shrug:
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-30-09 01:00 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. How about the discrepancy formula used to identify LD?
10 years ago it was 15 points. Now it's 22. Magic cure for LD I guess. :)
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-30-09 02:51 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. I remember too many who never got the help they needed.
Two brothers before SLD was even in the vocabulary....both ended up with IQs above 150 and neither could decipher the written word. They were brilliant in math and learned orally.

Another who needed help desperately exhibited ADHD and LD traits. His knowledge base in every subject was profound, but he could not concentrate to read much. He ended up teaching a few of our social studies lessons without having to even research...the knowledge was in his head.

But that was only after he got the medication he needed. Then he did not qualify for anything, he settled and calmed. One of the few with so many mixed needs that responded so well so quickly. The school system would not work with him because of their criteria, but they gave me permission to work with his doctor at the parents' request. Their kid who was driving them nuts calmed down, and we never knew really about any diagnosis.

He was a 129 on the pretest for gifted....but when given tests by professionals his IQ was over 170.

I wish I had written down some of the experiences through the years. Some ended well, others never got the help they needed.

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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-30-09 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. You want to hear something sad?
I have been a special ed teacher for 16 years and I have had only ONE student who couldn't learn to read. He was severely dyslexic and had an IQ above 150. He could memorize anything you told him. So I used lots of videos and tapes to help him develop comprehension skills.

It is sad that I know that once they get INTO sped we can help them. It's getting them in that is the problem.

I stay as far away from placement as they allow me to stay. It's just too frustrating; they change the rules all the time.



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