News Section: Schools and Education
LWV Releases Detailed Analysis of Florida Charter Schools
BRADENTON – 20 percent of Florida's charter schools close because of financial mismanagement or poor academic standards, according to a year-long study of charter schools in 28 Florida counties by the League of Women Voters of Florida.
"Charter schools could fill a niche in Florida's educational spectrum, but for many, their biggest contribution may be to corporate bottom lines," said Deirdre Macnab, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida.
With over 576 charter schools in the state, the League of Women Voters of Florida conducted a study in order to better understand the oversight, management, accountability and transparency of charter and private schools in Florida.
According to LWV, its study found that:
- Approximately one-third of charters are run by for-profit management companies. Many screen students, then drop those who are not successful, which public schools are prohibited from doing. Charters also serve particular socio-economic groups, increasing segregation in schools.
- Although charters tend to be smaller than traditional schools, there is no consistent difference in achievement for charter school and public school students.
- Many charters blur the distinction between religious and non-secular schools. Some churches receive as much as a million dollars in lease payments annually for their facilities from charter schools.
- In areas with declining enrollments, neither the charters nor regular public schools are large enough to adequately provide support for staff like nurses or counselors. Retaining teachers is also a problem; most charters offer lower salaries and benefits than public schools.
The League's study produced several recommendations:
- Charters should be limited to those that fill unmet needs in identified local school districts.
- Stronger local management oversight and disclosure policies are needed.
- Financial mismanagement issues must be addressed, as too often the privatization of schools leads to financial abuse.
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