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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

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 [...]

Florida Senate President Says Teachers Shouldn’t Expect An Even Playing Field

Republican state Sen. Don Gaetz.

Supporters say the charter school bill that has a good chance of passing Florida’s Republican controlled Legislature this year will better regulate charters and expand choices for parents. One thing the bill won’t do is require the same evaluations for charter school teachers as traditional public school teachers. Charter schools which do not participate in [...]

Florida Legislative Leaders Say This Is The Year For The Parent Trigger Bill

The parent trigger bill is back, and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford thinks it has a good chance of passing this year. He even tweeted about it shortly after the bill was filed. “It’s great public policy. It empowers families. It empowers parents, gives them the choices that they need,” Weatherford told StateImpact Florida. “It engages [...]

Read the Florida House of Representatives’ Big Charter School Bill

A Florida House of Representatives bill would allow charter school to take over empty school district buildings.

Yesterday the House Education Choice and Innovation subcommittee approved a 36-page bill that makes it easier for charter schools to expand. The bill adds more restrictions to closed charter schools and requires charter schools to post their board, management firm and some spending online. The bill also requires school districts to turn over empty buildings [...]

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