Florida created charter schools in 1996. They remained public schools funded by state dollars. The legislation debated by the state House would take away bargaining power for local districts that must approve those charter schools.
“All 67 school districts in the state of Florida do not like this bill,” said Rep Mark Danish (D-Tampa).
Every teacher who is also a legislator voted against the charter change.
“All the School boards are down on it,” said Rep. Carl Zimmerman (D-Tampa), “all the superintendents are down on it, and a lot of charter schools are down on it.”
Five Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the bill.
But Representative Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach) who supports it says the legislation will force unfriendly school districts to approve charters.
“It’s about the students,” said Adkins. “It’s about making sure the parents have that choice to make those decisions for their students.”
The legislation allows out-of-state companies to come in and be judged by their out-of-state performance, and it allows charters to begin operating while they’re still negotiating with school districts. Teacher and State Representative Karen Castor Dentel (D-Seminole County) says the change will neuter local decision makers.
“It will take all the decision away from the local school boards,” said Dentel. “They won’t be able to negotiate their own contracts.”
The legislation must still clear the state Senate where it will face a much closer vote.
Charter schools who receive a failing grade two years in a row would be closed automatically under the legislation.
Source: Capitol News Service – by Mike Vasilinda