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TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY JEAN-PIERRE CAMP

Everything You Need To Know About Charter Schools

Background

Charter schools are an idea dreamed up by an obscure education professor in the 1970s which have grown into a primary alternative to traditional public schools.

One in 17 Florida students attended a charter school last year, a number that has increased almost six-fold in a decade.

The original charter school model focused on local leaders forming an oversight board and spelling out the school’s mission, goals and methodology in a contract or charter. These schools range from non-profits founded by local activists, to schools set up by cities or towns to schools organized by those with professional expertise.

Florida has also had private, for-profit companies managing charter schools since state lawmakers first approved charter schools in 1996.

School districts are beginning to manage charter schools as well, offering a growing third option.

Experts say no particular type of charter school is more successful than another, but each kind of school has particular strengths and weaknesses.

Florida approved its first charter school law in 1996, and that year Liberty City Charter School in Miami became the state’s first charter.

Since then the number of Florida charter schools has grown to more than 500 with 154,000 students enrolled during the 2010–2011 school year. Private schools remain the largest alternative to district schools in Florida, enrolling 305,825 students — about 10 percent of all K-12 students — last year.

Last year Florida approved laws setting standards for “high-performing” charter schools and making it easier for good charter schools to expand.

Latest Posts

Opinion: For Better Teachers, Larger Classes And Higher Salaries

Sarasota County middle school math teacher Brenda Fuoco, in 2013.

Maybe a charter school in New York City has discovered “The Answer” to Florida’s K-12 education challenges? If so, the school has done so by setting aside Florida’s focus on keeping class sizes small and by instead adopting a strategy that our state has so far ignored – recruiting star teachers with high salaries and [...]

About That Charter School Funding Study…

Do traditional district schools receive more money than charter schools? A Rutgers University researcher says the gap is not as big when you compare actual expenses.

A recent University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform report concluded charter schools receive less funding than traditional public schools across the country. But that study only looked at revenue, argues Rutgers University researcher Bruce Baker in a new National Education Policy Center review, and ignores the complex financial relationships between school districts and charter [...]

A Post-Session Q & A With Senate Education Chairman John Legg

We sat down with Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg to talk about the recently completed legislative session. Legg said it was a good year for schools, with the budget boosting per student funding and lawmakers adding more options for students who want to earn college credit while still in high school. On the year’s [...]

Study: Florida Charter Students Receive $2,130 Less Than District School Peers

Florida charter school students receive $2,130 less in funding, on average, than students who attend traditional public schools, according to a new study from the University of Arkansas’ Department of Education Reform. Only Tennessee charter school students receive more funding than traditional district students. The gap ranges from $12,736 per student in Washington, D.C. to [...]

Feds Include Florida’s Largest Charter School Management Firm in Audit

Academica president Fernando Zululeta, at a 2011 meeting in the Bahamas with company leaders. Florida's largest charter school management company is under federal investigation.

UPDATE: The U.S. Department of Education audit is a broad review of charter schools across the country and not limited to Academica or the Mater Academy network it manages, a fact confirmed by the federal agency. Academica disputes the U.S. Department of Education’s initial findings and said they have responded to the agency. We’ve updated [...]

Three Questions: Jeb Bush On The State Of Common Core And Testing In Florida

Former Gov. Jeb Bush visited classrooms, observed students using their iPads, and took questions from a debate class at a high school in Hialeah, Fla. this week. The tour of the Latin Builders Association Construction & Business Management Academy high school—which is the first charter opened with a business association—was part of National School Choice [...]

A Q & A With Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Nan Rich

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich.

Nan Rich is a former state Senator who was the first Democrat to announce she’s challenging Gov. Rick Scott in 2014. Rich stopped by the WUSF studios Wednesday for a Florida Matters interview with Carson Cooper. Here’s what she said about education. You can hear the full interview Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. on WUSF. Q: [...]

A Look At The Indiana Charter School At The Center Of Tony Bennett’s Resignation

Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett is expected to resign today after the Associated Press published emails this week showing he and staff worked to change the state’s grading system in 2012, which boosted a charter school’s grade. While we’re waiting for a press conference later this morning, here’s a link to a story our colleagues [...]

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