Take Action: Urge Senate to reject Charter Turnaround Heist

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Apr 16, 2017 No Comments ›› admin
Status:  HB 5105 “Charter School Turnaround Heist/Schools of Hope” passed in the House along strict party lines. No companion in Senate except Sen. Bean’s SB776, which is scheduled to be heard for the first time in committee on Monday, 4/17/17. Please take the time to read and understand the dangerous lie behind HB 5105 and why the Senate must stop it.Take action now: Urge the Senate to reject Charter ”Schools of Hope” Turnaround language – No on SB776, block inclusion in Budget & “Train Bill”Politics behind HB 5105:

  • Thirteen people filled out testimony cards in the House to speak on “Schools of Hope”/HB 5105; the sole proponent was a lobbyist from Jeb’s Foundation for Florida’s Future
  • Florida legislators chronically move cut scores while ignoring the more important measure of actual learning gains, a practice that deliberately throws schools in and out of A, B, C, D, or F status every year.  
  • Case in point: the controversial “proficiency” language found in HB 773 which, if passed, alters the FSA cut scores again causing the pass rate to fall from 54% to somewhere between 27% and 39%, rapidly increasing the number of “D” and “F” schools, clearly benefiting “Schools of Hope.”
  • By allowing a “Schools of Hope” to open anywhere in a 5 mile radius from a “D” or “F” public school, legislators are ensuring that entire districts, even affluent areas, will qualify, triggering rapid charter growth.
  • Codifies a longstanding resentment that for-profit charter developers feel toward public school districts that charters aren’t being allowed to replicate fast enough.
  • Laws are passed every session to increase unmitigated charter growth.
  • Right now districts have multiple statutory optionsto aid in transforming a D or F school, only one of which is the transfer to a for-profit charter operator.  Charter lobbyists and folks such as HB 5105 sponsor   Manny Diaz, complain that districts don’t pick this option enough.
  • HB 5105 sweetens the charter pot by forcing districts to select the “transfer to for-profit charter operator” option and eliminating the district managed option entirely.

Send your letters now: Tell the Senate to reject the “Schools of Hope”/Charter Schools Turnaround Heist!

 “Schools of Hope” do not ensure success for struggling students: 

  • Students exiting their so-called “D/F” school become part of a large diaspora will be impossible to track to review outcomes, making it unlikely that the success or failure of “Schools of Hope” will ever be known.
  • The 77,000 students who currently attend D/F-graded public schools (2% of Florida’s 2.75 million public school students) are under zero obligation to attend the “School of Hope” situated within 5 miles of their current school.
  • “Schools of Hope” are under no obligation to provide transportation
  • Students who attend their so-called D/F school will be dispersed into the community, free to use the Opportunity Scholarships, Corporate Tax Credit/Private School Vouchers or the state’s liberal open enrollment policy that crosses all districts as well as the “School of Hope.”
  • Once the for profit charter “School of Hope” accepts the student(s) from the so-called D/F school, which could be as few as 1, they are free to host a lottery for the rest of the community
  • All the rhetoric about saving kids from so-called “failure factories” is a ruse. Under the “Schools of Hope,” nothing is guaranteed except the exponential growth of charter schools and the deliberate defunding of public district schools.

 Triggers multiple ways for districts to lose schools and students, giving voters and parents no voice:

  • Gives for-profit charter developers access to a $200 million capital slush fund if they are willing to open a so-called “school of hope” within a five mile radius of any “D” or “F” public school, which opens entire districts to charter development.
  • Immediate transfer of D and F public schools into private, for-profit hands. Districts already have multiple statutory options to aid in transforming a D or F school, only one of which is the transfer to a for-profit charter operator.
  • Loss of public assets nearly 1 billion per year
  • Bill takes away district right to manage its own school
  • Establishes system of “Success” Charter schools that could be designated an independent district with its own taxing authority
  • Eliminates District managed option
  • Compresses the time-frame for schools that receive a D or F grade to be handed over to for-profit charter operator
  • Removes options from school boards for turn-around solutions

Picture of loss:

  • 115 public district schools could be handed over immediately to corporate charter developers
  • 450 additional public schools vulnerable to this charter school heist
  • 77,000 students in those 115 public district schools under immediate takeover threat means the transfer of $555 million dollars to for profit charters per year based on UFTE of $7,420.58.
  • $200 million capital slush fund per year offered to for-profit charter chains willing to open a so-called “school of hope” within a five mile radius of any D or F public school.

For-profit Charter Chains not interested in struggling students:

  • Florida charters have demonstrated a chronic disinterest in this population.
  • Legislators are consumed with labeling children and schools with D or F, but unwilling to walk through the doors to see the remarkable work being done despite chronic underfunding
  • Charter Chains and legislators disregard the fact that struggling D or F schools face the deep effects of generational poverty that requires greater investment and support not “failure” labels and ridicule.
  • Charter chains know that struggling students cost more and are “not attractive” to a ‘for-profit” model

 Legislators ignore District Success:

  • A prime example of this is Orange County’s successful Evans High Community School, which is a collaborative effort between the district, UCF and other agencies.
  • This level of student investment – at least $1M more per year per school – is something no for-profit corporation is willing to justify to its board
  • Florida has a history of constantly moving cut scores while ignoring the more important measure of actual learning gains, a practice that deliberately throws schools in and out of A, B, C, D, or F status every year.

 “Schools of Hope” is based on a lie:

  • Florida’s A-F Accountability/school grades are based on a false premise since school grades almost always reflect zip code status
  • Florida’s constantly moving cut scores vs. the more important measure of actual learning gains throws schools in and out of A, B, C, D, or F status every year rendering the grades meaningless
  • Alters statute to include both D and F schools, exponentially driving up the numbers of schools available for take over

Florida Charter Schools have not lived up to their promises

  • State has spent $760 millionon the building and operation of charter schools since 2000.
  • Majority of state funding for the construction and renovation of schools goes to charter schools.
  • S. Department of Educationfound no evidence to support the claims that charter schools ‘save children from “failing schools.”
  • Research shows that restarting a former public school as a charter school had no significant impact on math or reading test scores, high graduation or college enrollment
  • In 2016, Florida charter schools closures were the highest in the nation

HB 5105 “Schools of Hope” enticements offered to for-profit charter chains:

  • Gives for profit operators a $200 million slush fund,
  • Provides for-profit charter developers with a state tax-payer sponsored revolving loan program
  • Transfers federal funds meant for district schools to private entities
  • Forces districts to turn over public school buildings AND requires the school district to maintain them.
  • Exempts for-profit charter developers from school building codes, taxes, fees and assessments and state procurement laws.
  • Exempts for-profit charter developers from the current charter law and requirements that they close if they fail.
  • Exempts for-profit charter developers from the class size limits in our constitution.
  • Exempts for-profit charter developers from teacher certification requirements
  • Rescinds district-managed option for turning around struggling schools

 Stretching the truth – calling Charter Chains “public”

  • Parents at Charter Schools have little recourse and must address complaints to a corporate school board whose members may not even live in the state.
  • For-profit Charter schools are run by corporate operators, are allowed to profit from publicly bonded real estate deals and are governed by separate school boards – all enriched by public dollars.
  • The 501c3 front door provides cover for a private, exceptionally lucrative for-profit back door charter operators that are exempt from transparency because they are private corporations
  • Legislators benefit from charter school growth. HB 5105 sponsor, Rep. Diaz, earns his living working for the unaccredited Doral College, which is owned by mega charter school developer Academica, the group that just won the state’s first district charter school takeover located in Jefferson County, The ink isn’t dry on the deal to serve 600 students and already Academica is petitioning the Florida Legislature for and additional $5M dollars,