Why Parents Love Charter Schools

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

All those self-important school bosses clustered around the coffee machine take notice:

Parents have had enough.

They are voting with their feet.

Charter schools welcomed 4,229 more students this year than last.

The traditional public system saw a decrease of 2,896.

About 13 percent of all public school students (Yes, charters are technically public schools.) now attend charter schools. That figure is growing every year.

I believe I know why.

An obvious reason is discipline. Some Broward schools make “Blackboard Jungle” look like a Disney movie. Disruptive children deprive all kids of the chance to learn.

I don’t blame teachers for the lack of discipline in some schools. I blame bad parents. Discipline should start at home.

Charters don’t put up with discipline problems, which parents love.

Another big reason parents love charters is the arrogance of those who run the regular schools.

Parents are sick of being brushed off and browbeat by petty bullies with lifetime jobs.

They are the customers of the schools. They want to be treated like valued customers.

If a customer gets shabby treatment at a restaurant, she goes to the restaurant down the block. If a parent gets shabby treatment in the front office of her child’s public school, she can now go to a charter school.

Superintendent Robert Runcie should get his staff and principals lessons in sensitivity and tact.

When I worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the parents’ number one beef was that they were tut-tutted or ignored by school higher ups. The complaints were about principals, the downtown paper-pushers and the School Board.

Former School Board Member Bob Parks actually had the audacity to bark at one group of parents that he didn’t have to listen to them because they lived outside his district.

Parents without the money for private school had no choices a few years ago. They had to take whatever guff was thrown at them by the school system.

They don’t have to take it anymore.

That’s why 15 new charter schools opened this month.

(Personal disclosure: My wife works at a local charter school.)



37 Responses to “Why Parents Love Charter Schools”

  1. charter schools not the answer says:

    Well, maybe they are. Partially.

    Charter schools have an advantage over other public schools. They don’t have to put up with discipline problems. They can have their own code of conduct and get rid of misbehaving students. Public schools can’t.

    I wonder how, legally, charter schools can ignore the same state statutes the public schools have to follow regarding progressive discipline, etc.

    One theory is that public schools are reluctant to throw kids out, since they need the money the students generate. Charter schools know that for every kid they expel, there’s a waiting list of ten kids to take their place.

    You may be on to something, Buddy.

  2. Former SB insider says:

    There is a solution, and one that you’ve mentioned a few times. The issue is accountability, and you’ve touched on the problem.

    The district is too large, and with single member districts, the board members are not accountable to most of the county. The staff doesn’t care, since they’ve watched as school board members and superintendents come and go.

    The answer is one you have mentioned previously. Smaller districts. I hate to sound like those “it’s better up north” folks, but other states have much smaller school districts, where the volunteer board and appointed or elected superintendent is accountable to the public. Their customers, if you will.

    This will take an act of the legislature, but the fact is that school boards themselves have very little power, very little influence, it is really the staff and the superintendent that control day to day operations, and without a superintendent that is answerable to the public, these types of issues will occur again and again.

  3. Notocorruption says:

    “Former School Board Member Bob Parks actually had the audacity to bark at one group of parents that he didn’t have to listen to them because they lived outside his district.”

    Bob Parks was also verbally abusive to professional and trade staff members.
    One of MAJOR reasons the seven districts should be abolished and all nine members of the School Board should be elected at-large.

  4. Fed Up Parent says:

    Parental choice is the future, so charter schools are a pick part of that choice. You are right, Buddy. Parents like me are sick and tired of being told what’s best for their child.
    I had a problem with bullying in a Broward middle school. I went to the principal and he did nothing. After one meeting, he wouldn’t even take my call. Who does he think he is?
    My daughter is going to a charter school this year. After the first week, she is already a happier and more focused young lady. The teachers union and school board members are so out of touch when they complain about charter schools. Good riddance to the public schools. Every parent should saynot one dime more in taxes for them.

  5. They Have It Backwards says:

    The charter schools get to siphon off the best behaved students, and yet research shows that charter schools are academically *worse* than regular public schools: “In 2009, the most authoritative study of charter schools was conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. The report is the first detailed national assessment of charter schools. It analyzed 70% of the nation’s students attending charter schools and compared the academic progress of those students with that of demographically matched students in nearby public schools. The report found that 17% of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools; 46% showed no difference from public schools; and 37% were significantly worse than their traditional public school counterparts.”

    Since the regular public schools are actually doing a better job of educating students than the charter schools are, without getting to cherry-pick their students like the charter schools can, the charter schools are the ones that need to figure out why the regular public schools are doing so much better.

  6. Big Money, Little Oversight says:

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/09/19/v-fullstory/2541051/florida-charter-schools-big-money.html

    [...] while charter schools have grown into a $400-million-a-year business in South Florida, receiving about $6,000 in taxpayer dollars for every student enrolled, they continue to operate with little public oversight. Even when charter schools have been caught violating state laws, school districts have few tools to demand compliance.

    Charter schools have become a parallel school system unto themselves, a system controlled largely by for-profit management companies and private landlords — one and the same, in many cases — and rife with insider deals and potential conflicts of interest.

    In many instances, the educational mission of the school clashes with the profit-making mission of the management company [...]

  7. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Friends,

    If you want to understand why Pines Charter schools have 14,000 students on a waiting list for our 5,600 schools. If you want to understand why we have all A schools that graduate 98% of our students, 96% of which go on to 4 year colleges. Including some of the best in the nation.

    If you want to understand why parents would prefer to have their kids in our schools, even though all of our area traditional public schools are great.

    If you want to understand why we succeed despite the school board’s evil policy of not giving us capital funds — a policy intended to help contain our success or lead to our school system’s destruction.

    If you want to understand how we pay our unionized public school teachers better, why their moral is better, and how we can run a better school system with soooo much less administration and red tape than in traditional public schools.

    If you want to understand all these things and much more, the last thing you should do is guess.

    Just come visit us at the Pines Charter School system. We’ll show you how. We will explain why we are just better at educating your kids than others.

    We have excellent traditional public schools in my city. Each one of them is excellent. But at Pines Charter, we look for ways to be even better. Parents know that.

    We want to compete. We want to be better. We teach our kids to compete and be better. Let others make excuses, let others be in love with mediocrity. Let others hatch their evil, discriminatory fiscal policies.

    We are charter and we will succeed anyway. We will excel by force of will. Nothing will stop us.

    When you teach your children to accept mediocrity, that is what they aspire to achieve. When you teach them that excellence is the standard they should achieve, they aspire to that.

    This difference is why parents entrust their child’s education to our care. We don’t make excuses. We excel.

    Now, this a simple a simple thing to understand but even more beautiful to see in practice.

    So don’t guess at why parents want their kids in charter schools. Come visit and see for yourself. We achieve excellence despite the evil policies of a district school monopoly that begrudges our success because we make them look bad.

    Come visit us and you will see how.

    Angelo

  8. Reality check says:

    The world needs ditch diggers too, and why not let the public schools supply them?

  9. Dee Dee says:

    I know Reality Check (obviously a republican) is being sarcastic. The problem is that the world doesn’t need ditch diggers. There is a declining need in America and the world for unskilled, uneducated labor.
    Unless Reality Check wants to support these people for the rest of their lives, they need a good education. I know republicans don’t understand the reasoning that education is just the right thing to do for the next generation.

  10. @Comm Castillo says:

    It is not because of your scary grammar. Please tell me you don’t teach english there on the side….

  11. Reality check says:

    I was being sarcastic to a point. While we may not need “ditch diggers,” public school is so focused on college prep that they do a disservice to those vast majority who will make a decent blue collar living.
    The truth is that not everybody is best served by going to college, but the district treats each student the same. It goes back to the district being too big, or too unaccountable to not treat each student like widgets.

  12. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Dear Friend,

    The subject English is spelled with a capital E…

    Angelo

  13. Pines Parent says:

    Commissioner Castillo,

    You are the most arrogant self centered and untruthful person I hav ever met in Pembroke Pines. You try to take credit for all kinds of things that you have had absolutely no involvement with. Now here you are trying to elbow smash people and trying to take all the credit for the Pines Charter Schools. Why don’t you and your go crawl under a rock until get get someone to run against you and Pines can finally get rid of you once and for all. You have some nerve as one of the biggest do nothing Commissioners in Pines to keep trying to make yourself look good and take credit for others hard work because you have no record of accomplishment, have not speadheaded one successful project, ooppss my bad you screwed all of us on the new jail in our nrighborhoods and cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Why don’t you take credit for that you arrogant asshole. Stay off these blogs, people in the Pines and all across Broward are sick and tired of you always butting in and putting your useless two cents.

  14. Pines Visitor says:

    I worked at Pines Library during early voting as well as other locations. While everywhere else was hot and sticky all day long, Pines was a comfortable 75degress, the air was fresh as being in the rockies and everyone was a nice as polite as any small town in the Midwest.

    Thank you Angelo, thank YOU for making Pines the utopia that it is. Perfect schools, perfect air quality, perfect weather, and polite citizens, how can not only the citizens of Pines ever thank you, how can the citizens of Earth thank you. Between all you have done in Pines and Al Gore inventing the internet, we would still be in the stone ages.

  15. EduKate says:

    Parents who are not involved, and conversely those who make every excuse for their child’s lack of focus on school and poor attendance are a big big problem. The other big problem in Broward Schools is the plethora of ineffective administrators. So many are really “political appointees” … connected to someone higher up even though they have little ability to lead a school. Every poor and ineffective teacher in the classroom is there because the administrator will not deal with them, help them improve or go through the process to remove them. The union does not protect them, only provides due process. But the Principals can’t be bothered, or the bad teacher is a buddy of the Principal, or a coach or?? Too many schools are run by incompetents or administrators who have their own agendas, loyalties or connections. And so many Asst. Principals in Broward are not fit to teach, and many have not done so in years, or never, but they are the ones to evaluate teachers.
    Rarely are the goals of learning (other than test scores for school grades) or the good of students really considered at the school level or the district level.

  16. Sunrise Parent says:

    Angelo is right because the Pembroke Pines charter schools are among the best schools in the county. The public school system has done everything in its power to thwart the Pines schools, including robbing them of money that is rightfully theirs.

    Those schools have a city sponsor not interested in making a profit. other schools operated by huge profit making companies siphon off money from the classrooms to put in their shareholders’ pockets. Do we want that?

  17. Sam The Sham says:

    “schools operated by huge profit making companies siphon off money from the classrooms to put in their shareholders’ pockets. Do we want that?”

    Ummm, YES! They are in business to make a profit but they can’t make a profit with a shoddy product and the choice to go elsewhere. That is the way life works. The better schools they make, the more people come to them, the more profit they make. Do you do any less? Do you think you would do a great job at work if you were not paid to do it?

    Profit is not a dirty word. Profit is not evil. Profit is what builds an economy and builds a country.

  18. Tamarac Talk says:

    Pembroke Pines charter elementary ranks 198 in FL public schools. Two other charters in Broward rank higher.

    Discuss.

  19. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Dear “Pines Parent” –

    I wouldn’t call it arrogance so much as a confident statement of the truth. Now if there’s something I said that is factually inaccurate, please let me know and I’ll correct it. I reviewed my comments and even though I wrote that post pretty quickly, apart from a few typos and such, it pretty much hits the mark as far as I can tell. I did mean to say “seats” on the second line instead of “schools” but I think most people got the gist of it anyway. Generally, I stand by the remarks not in any arrogant way but simply because they’re truthful.

    Dear Sunrise Parent –

    I get your point. But generally, so long as a private charter company teaches our kids well, it really shouldn’t matter if the company makes a profit. It does bother me that many private charter schools do not pay their teachers as well as teachers, as a profession, deserves. Government contractors profit from carrying out government duties. That is the business they are in.

    The question for government, it seems to me, is whether public education falls within that category of work that is non-delegable to the private sector. I do not believe that argument has ever successfully been made.

    Still, I understand it bothers some and what you say is true, we in City Hall draw no “profit” from the running of our charter schools. All of dollars we receive do go directly into the running of the schools, not nearly enough obviously, but certainly every cent we collect does go to that.

    As far as protecting the public fisc goes, I’d be more concerned with the millions misspent in education at traditional public schools every day rather than the relative pennies on the dollar that are earned by private charter school providers. Those searching for significant findings would find much more fertile ground in the area of traditional school spending than could every be the case with our poorly funded charter schools.

    In Broward, there is a Grand Jury report that more than justifies that comment. Though they are reforming and I’m thankful for that.

    Peace,

    Angelo

  20. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    The most striking difference between regular public schools and public charter schools is that the families have choices.

    The next most striking difference is that no charter school I’ve ever heard of denegrates either the students or the parents, treating them as if they were captives.

    The charter schools make the families feel part of the entire process, including the requirement that they volunteer.

    Yes, too many staffers in schools as well as in administration have the mindset that board members and families come and go, but they are there for the duration.

    And yes, political connections create havoc when the appointees aren’t anywhere near being qualified for their jobs.

    Having said that, I’ve been on the district’s Audit Committee since 1999 and have seen fiscal and educational disasters among charters.

    Most of the fiscal problems result from the very high management fees the schools pay. That’s a huge problem that the Legislature hasn’t yet felt the need to address yet.

    Because the families are treated as valued clients, they have a great deal of loyalty to the charters, even when the learning outcomes aren’t acceptable.

    The educational problems arise when the operators don’t know much about how children learn. They depend on management companies or boards of directors that also don’t know.

    I remember making myself very available to my children’s schools, donating time and money, as well as becoming politically active. That’s still how to make sure the experience in regular public schoools is positive. Of course this leaves out families that don’t have the resources to do those things.

    The bottom line really is that families satisfied with the present system will stay with it, and those that are leaving do indeed vote with their feet. When many leave, if the district doesn’t change, the families will make the change for them.

    Re: Former Member Parks, that’s not the only thing he had the audacity to say and do!

  21. Garfish says:

    Angelo, in the et tu department. If you are going to correct spelling and grammar, please make sure yours is 100% correct. So the subject English should be capitalized as you correctly pointed out. I would like to point out in your original post, where you wrote: “If you want to understand how we pay our unionized public school teachers better, why their moral is better…”

    The word morale is spelled with an “e” on the end. Unless you are saying that Pines Charter teachers have better morals than other public school teachers, in which case you needed to add an “s” to the end.

  22. Cheryl Krause says:

    I have always been a proponent of parents having choices when it comes to the education of their children. Back in the ’90s when Tally started talking about charters, the school districts lobbied hard to block them. They declared it would ruin public education. As I see it, it has only improved public education. Part of the problem with school districts is that they must concern themselves with the needs of the district, not necessarily the needs of students. Charter schools are free to focus on student education. Both of my children went to charter schools when the traditional system was failing them. Yes, charter schools are still public schools, but they are much more accountable than traditional schools in the district and are forced to be so with fewer budget resources. As long as kids aren’t served by traditional schools, charters will continue to be popular.
    If the School Board really wants to take on improving education, they would eliminate their own offices and staff, flatten the organization, and focus like a laser on their real job….making policy.

  23. Just another parent says:

    Wow.. Someone is speaking for many. I enjoy everything Angelo writes. I too agree that he is right about the charter schools. I feel cheated by public school everyday. Education, transportation, how they spend my tax dollars ect… In the end nothing seems to get resolved. Except for broken promises , layoffs, and cutbacks leaving parents with no hope for their child in public schools.

  24. Real Deal says:

    New Rule. When we can’t defeat the substance of somebody’s written arguments pointing our their spelling and grammar errors doesn’t help.

  25. Real Deal says:

    out.

  26. Garfish says:

    Unfortunately you can’t compare apples and oranges when comparing private schools, public schools, and charter schools. Studies that try to account for demographic differences have a difficult time, because not all schools administer the same standardized tests.

    Different laws apply to each school. I am seeing a brain drain and an economic drain at public schools in southwest Broward County. The students leaving public schools are frequently the average to above average earners. I know of a public school that serves students in Pembroke Pines and Miramar, it is an “A” school. In the past six years, they have seen their enrollment drop from near 1000 students to just over 600. They have seen their percentage of students on free and reduced lunch increase steadily every year from 14% to 41%. This is partly due to the economy, and partly due to affluent families leaving the school. They have seen the percentage of special needs students increase from 10% to 22% This is partially because of an increase in special needs enrollment at the school, but it is also a result of the higher achieving students leaving the school.

    Commissioner Castillo has mentioned before that the Pines Charter system does not selectively enroll. They do however have an enrollment cap, a lottery system, and a waiting list to get in. They do not serve the severity, complexity, and numbers of special needs learners that the Broward Public School System does. Behavior problems can be expelled from the Charter schools (I know, because a family I knew many years ago was contacting me about their son being expelled from the Pines Charter High School). These students often wind up in the public school system. How many charter school students are fresh off of a boat or airplane and do not speak a word of English? I’d love to see a comparison of the ESL data.

    I can appreciate Commissioner Castillo’s support and endorsement of his city’s program, but even in promoting his version of Lake Wobegon, he does so at the expense of his constituents whose children attend public schools and who are employed by the same system.

  27. Garfish says:

    Oops, When I wrote, “The students leaving public schools are frequently the average to above average earners.” I meant learners, not earners.

  28. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Dear Garfish –

    Several points. First, let me make this clear and crystal clear. I support ALL public schools. I believe that all teachers are paid miserably for the work they do which is incredibly important yet hugely undervalued by an ungrateful society. I have been outspoken about this for many years.

    I am a teacher as was my mother. My sister is a master teacher, my aunt was a teacher. I come from a family of teachers and have always felt a very close, protective feeling for the value of education.
    It is an integral value in me to defend education and teachers.

    But I do not support the intentional financial discrimination that carries with it the evil goal of putting charter schools out of business. This is levied by a mean spirited public school monopoly. It is evil and I resent it. So does every red blooded objective citizen. Every public school child deserves to receive the same amount of tax payer resource so they can learn, none more than any other. The Broward County school board disagrees and this makes them evil.

    I am unafraid to say this publicly because it is 100% true.

    Now, Pines Charter does not offer more special needs programs because the SCHOOL BOARD WILL NOT FUND US TO DO MORE. This is not some intentional wish on our part not to do it. We do all that we can. I have proposed to open a special charter school K-12, even with a residential component, in Pembroke Pines for children with autism.

    If asked, I would do an entire K-8 for ESL’s and trust me they’d all come out speaking multiple languages in addition to having a command of English. The school board does not want us to have any more success.

    The school board laughed the idea off. It was dismissed out of hand. Guess what? It would have been a tremendous success. Don’t tell me we don’t care about special needs kids.

    Our demographics are no different than any other school serving our area. It is bullshit to suggest that we cream in admissions or conger up elaborate metaphors to dismiss the obvious. We have as many ESL kids as anybody else. Admission is by lottery. There are parents on that list for years, and somebody gets lucky their first year of application and gets in. It happens all the time.

    We outperform the traditional public schools despite being severely underfunded on purpose. It is who we are. We will excel. It is our supreme act of defiance and it defines who we are as good people. That will continue. That is how motivated we are to teach and succeed.

    Despite that, I have said a thousand times. I think our area traditional public schools are excellent. I’d have no trouble sending my own children to any of them. Parents are moving their kids because they see that at our schools we produce better results. And we do.

    The thing for traditional public schools to do is match or beat us. If they can. And kids end up becoming the winners in that contest. Only let’s play on an even playing field financially. The public school monopoly has no credibility to say there are bad charter schools so long as they financially discriminate against any.

    Peace,

    Angelo

    PS — Students that will not behave, who refuse, should be expelled for the good of other students. There are special schools to correct those behavior problems, or there should be, and therefore expulsions should not disrupt the operations of any other public school. Take expulsion away from schools and you end up with schools where nobody can learn. There must be respect in order for learning to occur. So I have no clue what you’re suggesting with that comment.

    PPS — I do not make my comments at the expense of my other constituents. I make them in DEFENSE of them. I want my constituents to get the very best service from public schools they can. Nothing but excellence. This is why I am unafraid to stand up to the “blue wall” of educational silence and say, enough. Enough. Nobody defends their constituent’s public educational rights more than me. You have it completely backwards.

  29. Garfish says:

    I understand the political and economic issues. I never said that Pines Charter doesn’t want to educate special needs students, I’m just pointing out the inside the classroom realities faced by public school children and teachers right now.

    I know that Pines Charter accepts all learners based on a lottery and they are full, so there’s a waiting list. So ESL students fresh from another country almost always start in a public school classroom.

    I agree that smaller school boards are the answer, essentially the Pines Charter system functions as a locally operated school board, and its efficiency is well documented. However, not all charter schools are cut from the same cloth. Maverick Charters anyone?

    Have you had recent experience trying to get a behaviorally challenged student into a special school? I have, and it’s an eye opening experience that is time consuming, frustrating, and takes way too long.

    So my point is that when people demonize public education and manipulate and propagandize data to score a financial windfall it is the children who suffer. Many people move their child to a charter or private school because they don’t want their son or daughter to be in class with certain students from certain demographic groups. It is an elitism based on frustration and false impressions. This is done by the local district, Tallahassee, and Washington DC. It is done by teacher unions, colleges of education, and education publishers. The Bush family and the Bidens haven’t helped at all.

    Instead of working to continually improve and provide a world class public school system in our country, we’ve allowed it to be fractured and we’ve left good people fighting over the table scraps to fund education programs.

  30. Another 1 Bites The Dust!! says:

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/29/v-fullstory/2975216/miramar-charter-school-closes.html

    Miramar charter school closes; teachers lose pay
     
    Teachers at a Miramar charter school say they were denied their last month’s pay after the school district shut the troubled school down.

    After a history of academic and athletic failures — including a football scandal that prompted Florida’s largest-ever fine against a high school — Miramar’s Parkway Academy has been forced to close.

    Teachers at the 517-student charter school were aware the end was coming, but what they hadn’t expected was this: As the doors shut, Parkway stiffed its teachers of their last month’s pay.

    “We don’t deserve this,” said former Parkway teacher Deon Stupart. Stupart, a single mother of two daughters, said she’s now past due on both her rent and her utilities. [...]

    Though teachers typically work 10 months out of the year, their pay is often spread over 12 months. At Parkway, teachers say they were forced to take their pay over 12 months — a 10-month option was not allowed — and so now they are waiting to be paid for work they performed months ago. [...]

    Parkway is not the only local charter school where teachers were denied pay. In 2010, teachers at Rise Academy in Florida City complained of not being paid for their final month, said Helen Blanch, assistant superintendent for school choice for Miami Dade Public Schools. The school district shut down Rise Academy for a variety of reasons that included unsanitary conditions and questionable spending by administrators.

    Rise’s teachers never got those paychecks, according to Miami-Dade officials.

    Parkway was founded in 2001 as a charter school with an automotive niche, with some students being trained for future careers as auto mechanics. Most of the school’s board members are in fact local car dealership owners, and Stupart said she reached out to the board president — Gary Feil of Ocean Cadillac — when it was announced teachers wouldn’t be paid.

    Feil said “He had no idea what was going on,” Stupart said. “He said that he would do some investigation and get back to me.”

    Soon after, Feil stopped returning teachers’ calls, Stupart said.

    Feil did not return calls from the Miami Herald on Wednesday. [...]

  31. CATO says:

    my son just went fr a charter school to a public middle school and says he can’t believe how nice everyone is…and seems much more relaxed/happier…so everything is relative and related to specific set of circumstances & people, I think.

    I do know that only 16-17% of charter schools do better academically than public schools, and there’s no oversight, so the $ allocated for kids can go into the pockets of private entities…not good!

  32. Another 3 Bite The Dust!! says:

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/fort-lauderdale/fl-broward-charters-close-20120914,0,211412.story

    Three Broward County charter schools shutting down

    [...] Eagle Charter Academy and SMART Charter School notified the Broward School District on Thursday that their governing boards had voted to voluntarily terminate charter contracts with the School Board, district officials said.

    The announcement came a day after parents got a letter from the schools’ management company, indicating that low enrollment was the reason both schools were closing.

    Willingham, who said she taught English at Eagle Charter from October 2011 to January this year, said she thought the school “didn’t have sufficient materials, books and employees.”

    Her 17-year-old daughter, Brooke Willingham, transferred to Dillard High recently after attending Eagle Charter Academy during the first few weeks of this school year, Willingham said.

    Last month at Eagle Charter, Willingham’s daughter told Willingham that she and many other students were being placed in a cafeteria during the school day without receiving classes, Willingham said.

    Her daughter had no school grades to provide Dillard’s registrar when she enrolled there this week, because “she hadn’t done any work” at Eagle Charter, Willingham said.

    Also upset was Rose Ghent, 35, of Fort Lauderdale, whose 12th-grader at Eagle Charter performed 40 hours of community service to improve his chances of getting a college scholarship.

    Her son, Gregory Williams, 17, submitted paperwork to the school to document his volunteer hours, but Eagle Charter said it had no such record, Ghent said.

    The other school to recently shut down was Touchdowns4life Charter School in Tamarac. It on Tuesday announced its closure to the school district, saying its governing board had voted to voluntarily terminate its charter contract, according to district officials. A reason for its closure hasn’t been released.

    A press release from the Broward school district said, “We welcome the students of Eagle Charter Academy, SMART Charter School and Touchdowns4life Charter School to attend their District ‘home’ school.” [...]

  33. Ha Ha Ha says:

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/education/fl-broward-charter-school-close-20140805,0,5516562.story

    Pembroke Pines Charter School Fails Again, Goes Out Of Business
    By Scott Travis, Sun Sentinel
    6:48 p.m. EDT, August 5, 2014

    A Broward charter school whose two-year history was marked by two F grades was closed Tuesday.

    The Broward School Board voted to shut down Broward Charter School of Science and Technology in Pembroke Pines, which served 135 students last school year.

    The school has struggled both financially and academically since it opened in 2012. The school finished its first year $63,000 in the red and F-rated, based on student performance on state standardized tests. …

    FROM BUDDY:

    The failure of a handful of small charter schools, which did not have the proper financing from the start, will not stop the continued march of students to them. Big well-run firms like CharterUSA continue to offer education opportunities that parents want for their children.

  34. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    To clarify the newspaper’s sloppy and potentially libelous headline, the charter school discussed in #33′s posted article has nothing whatsoever to do with the City of Pembroke Pines Charter School system. There is no connection at all or any association between those different schools.

    Peace.

    Angelo

    FROM BUDDY:

    The Pembroke Pines Charter School system is one of the good ones.

    The existence of the city-funded system illustrates is another example of how the public school system failed parents. If the school system had enough quality schools and teachers in Southwest Broward, there would be no need for the charter schools.

    The city should be applauded for stepping in to fill the gap.

  35. Like this? says:

    You mean like this one?
    http://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/charter-schools-usa-savage-public-relations-campaign-to-shield-themselves-from-scrutiny/
    Charter Schools USA Savage Public Relations Campaign to Sheild Them From Scrutiny
    by Bob Sikes
    The Tampa Bay Times has now begun reporting on Charter Schools USA Hillsborough problem. Writes reporter Marlene Sokol:

    Frustrated by answers her staff was getting to questions about school governance, superintendent MaryEllen Elia dispatched letters this week to the boards of three schools, saying she’ll soon move to terminate their charters.

    The reaction?

    Unlike other community leaders who often treat Elia with deference, charter board chairman Rod Jurado called her move “a pathetic attempt” to take away parental choice as she deflects attention from “abysmal” performance in the district’s schools.

    At stake are the Winthrop, Woodmont and Henderson Hammock charters, with a combined enrollment last year of more than 2,000 students. All three are managed by Fort Lauderdale-based Charter Schools USA. While they have advisory boards with local representatives, leadership also comes from the nonprofit Florida Charter Educational Foundation, which has close ties to the for-profit company.

    For months, Hillsborough officials tried to sort out those relationships. The issue arose in 2013 when the group was involved in a bid for a charter school at MacDill Air Force Base. Confusion over governance was one reason Elia recommended against the MacDill school. The School Board backed her up, and the group appealed to the state.

    Charter Schools USA may have tipped their hand in the MacDill controversy when they pulled their application and retooled their local governing board structure. They’d never been denied an appeal to a state board filed with cronies. Did Charter Schools USA boss Jonathan Hage signal that he knew Elia had the goods on them?

    But those the problems with the local governing board still exist with the other three CSUSA facilities which are drawing scrutiny from Hillsborough. Even though it appears MacDill has all local board members, will it really be providing oversight? The unanswered questions on CSUSA’s other charters could torpedo the MacDill bid.

    Perhaps the clear problems with the Hage’s CSUSA business model that are at odds with Florida law explains the PR campaign focused on demonizing Elia. CSUSA is making a big deal about WTSP reporter Noah Pransky reporting on story before they got the letter. Maybe Elia remembered the manner Hage’s goons savaged her during the first MacDill brawl and she preempted them.

    And Hage’s guys are indeed making it about Elia in an attempt to shield themselves from scrutiny. Why didn’t they respond to official district inquiries? Why didn’t they correct problems with the board structure as they knew chairman Ken Haiko serves on numerous CSUSA local boards all over the country?

    The ferocious attack on Elia by Jurodo which also besmirched Hillsborough public schools says much about the way Hage goes about business. It leaves the impression he feels that the political access that he’s invested in over the past decade enables him to bull through anything and shields his empire from scrutiny.

  36. Like this? says:

    And this one….

    Florida Law Firm Requests More Cash From Indiana for Florida-Based Charter Schools USA
    by Bob Sikes
    Charter Schools USA executive Sherry Hage boasted last month about “opening schools in areas of highest need,” but all isn’t going so well in three Indiana schools she and her husband took over in 2012. From reporters Eric Weddle and Scott Elliott in the Indianapolis Star:

    The four takeover schools in Indianapolis lost huge numbers of students — between 35 and 60 percent at each school — between the start of classes in 2011 and when the takeover operators took over in 2012. Schools are mostly funded on the basis of their enrollment, so the departures came at a steep cost for the private operators.

    On top of that, the takeover schools saw their share of a pot of federal funds for low-performing schools that is controlled by the state shrink as more state schools became eligible to claim that money. Tindley lost $212,000, and Charter Schools USA’s three schools lost more than $601,110 because of across-the-board reductions.

    Together, the cuts have left takeover operators with much higher costs than they anticipated.

    Sherry Hage, CSUSA’s chief academic officer, says the operator is planning to stick with its schools despite the costs

    This hasn’t stopped the Hage’s from asking Indiana taxpayers for more money and do so last month via a letter from its, get this, Florida law firm, Tripp Scott of Fort Lauderdale. On June 4, senior partner Edward J. Pozzuoli wrote to Indiana Superintendent Glenda Ritz on the Hage’s behalf:

    The undersigned represents the Turnaround School Operator, Charter Schools USA. We write on behalf of the students of Emma Donnan Middle School (Donnan}, Thomas Carr Howe Community High School (Howe}, and Emmerich Manual High School (Manual). On behalf of our students and because of our commitment to them, we feel duty bound to express our grave concerns with the pending recommendation to the State Board of Education that significantly reduces School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding to Donnan, Howe and Manual (collectively he “Turnaround Schools” ) over the next two years.

    There’s something creepy about and out-of-state law firm lobbying another state’s elected official, isn’t there? At any rate, the Hage’s Charter School USA adventure into Indiana hasn’t gone well from the start.

    The three schools received an “F” in their first year of operation, prompting Sherry Hage to outrageously claim that “while we may have received an ‘F,’ our schools are most definitely not failing any longer.” Moreover, a December 2012 story reported that the Hage’s received $6 million more than they should have from then Superintendent of Public Education Tony Bennett. Just six month after the Hage’s deal with Bennett for Charter Schools USA was revealed to have no profit limits nor minimum classroom expenditure levels, Red Apple Development, the real estate development arm of Charter Schools USA donated $5000 to Bennett’s campaign.

    http://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/florida-law-firm-requests-more-cash-from-indiana-for-florida-based-charter-schools-usa/

  37. OH! Here is a good one says:

    Charter School Grades Should Alarm Every Floridian as Drag On Districts Continues
    http://flaglerlive.com/68757/charter-schools-jd/
    By Julie Delegal
    Florida’s schools have been graded since FCAT began under Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1998. There weren’t any consequences for the first few years — no “turnaround” lists, no teacher bonuses — as schools were given the chance to adjust to the brand new test.
    Standards of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test have been ramped up a few times over the past 15 years, and school scores have been tweaked accordingly. The “safety net,” which prevents a school’s grade from falling more than one letter over the course of the year, is in effect again for 2014 scores.
    This year, Jacksonville’s first round of grades brings good news and bad news. Yes, Duval County’s elementary and middle schools have earned more A’s, but they’ve also earned more F’s — 22 of them, total. And six of those F’s
    Charter schools are hybrid entities. Private educational groups run charter schools using public money. The private educators, in turn, pay leases to the property owners and/or fees to the franchise.
    An example is Charter Schools USA. In a profile of its CEO, Jonathan Hage, Florida Trend magazine reports that once a charter school is on its feet, CSUSA takes roughly 10 percent of the per-pupil tax dollars that come through the door. In Florida, charter schools receive about two-thirds of the per pupil funds that traditional schools receive. The schools collect capital improvement funds from the state for site-related needs, and they don’t pay property taxes, even though the real estate sites are privately owned assets.
    Charter schools were supposed to be the superheroes of education. “Give parents a choice,” proponents said. “Loosen up on the regulations. Let us innovate and show you what we can do; we’ll bring those innovations to the public school classroom.”
    In Jacksonville, with its areas of almost intractable poverty, it’s easier said than done. While some school-grade calculations are still pending, 32percent of Jacksonville’s elementary and middle charter schools graded so far this year have earned F’s.* By contrast, so far, only 12.5 percent of Duval’s traditional public schools scored F’s this year. Speaking in proportionate terms, and without accounting for sample sizes, Jacksonville’s charter schools, as a district, have 2 ½ times the number of failing schools than do our traditional-district schools.

    We are paying for it dearly — not only in terms of student failure, but also in terms of diffused resources. Test-based accountability is a little too high-stakes in Jacksonville as compared to our nearest-peer district, Hillsborough. (Hillsborough County is exempt from the provisions that count test-scores as 50 percent of teachers’ evaluations.) Nevertheless, standards-based accountability permits educators to zero-in on students’ specific academic needs in order to better serve them.
    That’s harder to do, though, when privatization is draining precious dollars from traditional schools, whose scale operational costs remain roughly the same despite losing students.

    Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told the Jacksonville Times Union that the district’s traditional schools lost $70 million in pupil funds last year due to privatization — charter schools, voucher schools, and other “contract” schools.
    Despite the financial crunch, though, Duval’s traditional district schools outperformed charters on the “A” end of the grading scale, too. So far, 23percent of our traditional district elementary and middle schools earned “A” grades, compared to just 10 percent of Duval’s charter schools. Jacksonville’s traditional public schools also beat charters on passing grades, that is, the percentage of schools scoring A’s, B’s, and C’s: Sixty-six percent of graded traditional schools “passed” so far compared to only 58 percent of charters.
    The idea that charter school operators should make a profit by providing children a better educational experience should offend no one. The fact that the numbers say they’re not doing a better job, while they’re draining away precious public resources, should alarm everyone.

    * All figures were retrieved on July 17 from Jacksonville Public Education Fund’s interactive website. Only already-graded schools were included.
    Julie Delegal, a lifelong Floridian, is a contributing writer for Jacksonville’s Folio Weekly and a ContextFlorida columnist.