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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

Online Charter School Network Will Try Again Next Year In Three Districts

A screenshot of the Florida Virtual Academy website. The schools are affiliated with K12, Inc. the Florida Department of Education is investigating whether the company used improperly certified teachers in Seminole County.

A network of online charter schools tied to education firm K12, Inc. will not seek to open schools in Marion, Orange and Seminole counties next year, The Orlando Sentinel reports. A lawyer representing Florida Virtual Academy said the schools would not be able to open by next fall if the local school districts continued to [...]

House Republicans And Democrats Spar Over Charter School Bias Charge

The fact that the House budget committee approved a charter school bill Thursday isn’t nearly as interesting as the debate that took place. Rep. George Moraitis, R-Fort Lauderdale, said his bill is designed to increase accountability for charter schools – since they are using public dollars – and increase flexibility and growth. Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, [...]

Committee Gives Parent Trigger Bill First Approval

House Choice and Innovation subcommittee approved The Parent Empowerment in Education bill, better known as the parent trigger, Thursday. The bill (HB867) is making a return after passing the House last year but dying in the Senate on a tie vote the final day of the legislative session. Critics say the bill is designed to [...]

Session 2013 Town Hall: Teacher Raises, School Funding, Parent Trigger Bill

The Florida Legislature convenes next week for its annual 60-day session. Education will be among the key issues getting lawmakers’ attention. The Miami Herald and WLRN radio hosted a town hall meeting this week in Fort Lauderdale featuring three panelists – Senate majority leader Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater; Senate minority leader Chris Smith, D-Oakland Park; and [...]

Town Hall Tonight: Join The Discussion With Florida Lawmakers

Tonight’s the Town Hall on Session 2013, live from Fort Lauderdale. Florida legislative leaders and journalists from the Miami Herald and WLRN Radio will discuss the big issues lawmakers plan to tackle during the 60-day session that begins Tuesday, March 5th. The event is hosted WLRN and The Miami Herald and is sponsored by Global Integrity. [...]

Two Florida Civil Rights Groups Oppose Parent Trigger Bill

Two civil right groups have teamed up to write resolutions against the proposed Parent Empowerment in Education bill in Florida. The bill — best known as the “parent trigger” — passed the Florida House last year but failed on a tie vote in the Senate on the final day of the legislative session. Legislative leaders [...]

Legislation Gives Florida School Districts More Flexibility On Class Sizes

A bill that would change the way schools are penalized for not complying with class size requirements is getting bipartisan support so far in Tallahassee. The House Choice and Innovation panel made a few tweaks to the legislation and approved it Wednesday with just one member voting against it. Voters approved a constitutional amendment in [...]

Florida Schools Get ‘A Lot Of Flexibility’ Designing Teacher Evaluations

Teachers shouldn’t expect an apples-to-apples comparison when looking at new state-required evaluation scores. That’s because evaluations will vary — not just between charter schools and regular public schools — but between public school districts. Mike Kooi, Executive Director of the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice, has been trying to set the record straight [...]

Charter Schools Say Their Teachers Will Be Evaluated The Same As District Teachers

State laws sets standards for public school teacher evaluations. Whether charter school teachers will be evaluated on a par with their traditional public school counterparts is questionable.

The way charter school teachers are evaluated has become a source of conflict for teachers and for lawmakers in Tallahassee. The question isn’t whether charter teachers have to be evaluated under state law – they do. Just like traditional public school teachers, they will eventually have to follow the standards set by the law passed [...]

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