“An important point to make is, you know, we talk about, ‘This is public school, this is charters.' Look, if it’s public dollars, it’s public education. . . . In Florida, public education is going to have a meaning that is directed by the parents, where the parents are the drivers because they know what’s best for their kids."
The governor’s proposal to create a new private school voucher program for students from low-income families and pay for it directly with tax money comes as no surprise. It also is no surprise that DeSantis’ announcement was praised by former Gov. Jeb Bush, the father of school vouchers in Florida, and by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who promotes school choice and has pushed for a federal tax credit for a voucher-like program.What is remarkable is the rhetoric coming from the governor. DeSantis actually stood at a private school Friday in Orlando and said, “If the taxpayer is paying for education, it’s public education.’’That is absurd. It redefines the meaning of public education in Florida and the nation. It also flies in the face of the Florida Constitution: “The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools . . .’’Exactly where does the state Constitution say the governor and the Florida Legislature can meet that “paramount duty’’ by diverting public tax dollars to private religious schools?
Florida seems hellbent on sending its public schools into K-12 purgatory. We’re at the bottom in per-pupil spending and teacher pay, and the number of job openings for quality teachers continues to grow. So, what’s our state’s response? School choice; let’s give more public money to private schools. . . .Such nonsensical logic is costing Florida’s taxpayers big money, while the one institution responsible for educating more than 2.8 million students flounders from underfunding and poor direction from state leaders. Gov. DeSantis earlier promised to seek more money for per-pupil spending and teachers’ salaries, but this latest move undermines that effort to make our state a more attractive place for educators and education. We simply can’t afford this latest siphoning off of taxpayer dollars from our neighborhood public schools to unregulated and unaccountable private schools.
a school that is maintained at public expense for the education of the children of a community or district and that constitutes a part of a system of free public education commonly including primary and secondary schools.
• Public schools should be open to the public, meaning all children are not only permitted but are also welcomed and equitably supported, even if their education may be more costly than average, such as that of students with disabilities or English-language learners.• They should serve the public, meaning they meet societal needs like preparing active citizens to maintain the government and economy or to serve in the military or on juries, while also preparing graduates to critique and revise those needs.• They should be responsive to the public, enabling comunity members to vote out school officials or change school policies through meaningful and viable avenues like elections, referendums, and open school meetings.• They should be creators of the public, meaning that they cultivate citizens who know how to exchange ideas and respond to the ideas of others, while tolerating and working across differences.• They should sustain democracy by developing skills and dispositions within children for participating and enacting freedom-oriented decisionmaking.
Don't be misled by the #ChartersArentPublic campaign.— School Choice Movement (@SchoolChoiceMVT) February 14, 2019
Florida statute 1002.33 reads:
"All charter schools in Florida are public schools and shall be part of the state’s program of public education."
MYTH: Charters aren’t public schools.
FACT: 100% are non-profit & public pic.twitter.com/7AOAm9Vo9H
Charters are not public schools. I can say that pig is really a cow, but that doesn't mean it will give milk.— Peter Greene (@palan57) February 15, 2019
So technically, any charter school can call itself a public school. Heck, any private or parochial school can call itself a public school if it’s so inclined. But while modern charter schools are financed by public tax dollars, they are not truly public schools for the following reasons.
Public schools are required to provide a transparent look at their finances. At times, some outlets have gone so far as to publish the salaries of individual teachers, and that’s perfectly legal. Nor are public school boards allowed to meet privately or in secret. Everything that happens in a public school is paid for with public dollars, and is therefore subject to public scrutiny. Charters deliberately avoid that level of scrutiny.
The details here vary from state to state . . ., but charter schools generally don’t have to play by the same rules as public schools. Non-discrimination, health and safety, and school year length are often (but not always) exceptions -- beyond the specific exceptions, charters operate as they will, and may in some states request additional waivers. So, for instance, many states do not require charter teachers to be certified. Public schools, meanwhile, must play by all the rules laid down by the state.
Modern charter schools have a variety of techniques for controlling which students they serve. It begins with advertising, which signals which students are most likely to feel like the school is a good fit for them. Charters are not required to provide programs that meet all special needs; they don’t necessarily turn those students down, but if a school tells you that they do not offer the program that your child needs, will you really enroll there? And while lotteries are supposed to select students randomly, lotteries themselves often require committed parents willing to work their way through the paperwork and bureaucracy, so that the system allows parents to self-select for providing the kind of support and commitment that makes students more successful.
Charter schools could be operated by a locally elected board, but they almost never are. Instead, charter schools are owned and operated by private individuals or boards, sometimes located far away from the school itself. Sometimes control of the charter is separated from the community by a series of managerial handoffs -- Group X technically owns and operates the charter, but they hire Corporation Y to actually run the school.When municipal assets like water systems and parking facilities are handed off to private companies to run, we call it by its name -- privatization. Turning a school over to a private company to own and operate is no different.