League of Women Voters issued a report this week that’s highly critical
of the state’s charter school movement. Education “reform” critics, such
as historian Diane Ravitch and AFT president Randi Weingarten, have
begun passing around the document, calling it a “bombshell.”
In it, the League observes that Florida charters have a 20 percent
closure rate because of financial problems or poor academic performance.
Charter proponents have seen this as a good thing, as it weeds out the
bad actors, and argue that the same should occur for traditional public
schools. The League isn’t convinced.
The report notes that many state officials with power over charter
schools also have vested interests in charters, including lawmakers Rep.
Erik Fresen and Sen. John Legg. These political leaders have
acknowledged their ties, but argued they have no legal conflict of
The League also suggests that some charters run by for-profit
management firms screen students and then drop those who are not
successful. Leaders of the McKeel charter schools in Lakeland told the Ledger in 2010 that they could dismiss students who did not meet academic requirements.
“Charter schools could fill a niche in Florida’s educational
spectrum, but for many, their biggest contribution may be to corporate
bottom lines,” League president Deirdre Macnab said in a news release.
The group recommends actions such as limiting charter schools to fill
unmet needs in local districts — primarily focusing on low-income
families, and creating stronger local oversight of charters.
Rebuttals to the League of Women Voters report have not yet begun. They probably will soon. Read the full report here.