Only poor kids should go to charter schools

That is what this editorial is saying. That and Charter Schools are great, just not for our kids. -cpg

from St.

This is how we started an editorial in September:
“State Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, asked the right question when he heard that three charter schools, two based in Miami and the other in Orlando, have applied to come to St. Johns County.
“‘Why fix or try to fix something that’s not broken,’ he asked. People in St. Johns County are ‘happy with their schools, they’re performing well and they do a good job.’
“He’s right, of course. The St. Johns County School District is the best in the state four years in a row for a reason. The schools are high performing and the educators are highly motivated and talented.
“And, most important, the students get a good education as they consistently show with their outstanding test scores.
“So, why would those downstate charter schools want to come here?
“The answer, we think, rests in a law that went into effect this year.
“That law, called the High-Performing Charter Schools law, gives special rights to charter schools that have two “A” grades and one “B” grade over a three-year period and a clear financial audit.
“Those special rights include that the charter school will be able to expand enrollment by 15 percent a year, will be able to expand grade level offerings and — here’s the important one — will be able to add a school a year anywhere in the state, with the local school board having little say.
“And that, we believe, is why the Miami- and Orlando-based charter schools want to come here. They know that they have a high probability of meeting the standard for high-performing schools here.”
That was then. The three charter schools withdrew their applications, although two have vowed to return.
We don’t know what forces played out behind the scenes to get them to withdraw, but we suspect that Thrasher, a leader in the state charter school movement, had a big role in making that happen. For that, we thank him.
Now the Legislature is in session, and there are plenty of issues before them on charter schools, but none addresses the concerns both Thrasher and we raised last fall.
Thrasher said then that the big charter schools should go into places where schools are failing. We agree. That’s not St. Johns County.
And yet there is nothing in any of the proposed legislation that steers the big for-profit charter schools to districts that are failing, and directs them away from places like St. Johns and Flagler counties, both of which have outstanding schools.
This is a missed opportunity if the Legislature doesn’t do something to ensure that the big privately run charter schools go to struggling districts that might benefit from them and not go to successful districts, like St. Johns and Flagler. In districts like these, the big for-profit charter school companies would only drain resources from public schools, and do nothing to help the struggling school districts.
It would seem that the Republican-controlled Legislature would want to preserve the high-quality public school districts that are all over Florida, and are in mostly Republican-dominated counties, such as Nassau, Flagler, Martin, Santa Rosa, St. Johns and so many more. If Republican lawmakers want to hear their constituents scream, just wait until the big charter schools start draining resources from the public schools their constituents love.
We urge the Legislature to ensure that the big privately operated charter schools stay in struggling districts.
After all, listen to the advocates of the big charter schools. They say school choice is a “civil rights” issue and that children should not have to stay in failing schools. If they believe that, then they should eagerly embrace laws that require that the big privately run charter schools operate only in districts — both urban and rural — that have failing schools.

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