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Florida Report Shows Strong Performance of Public Charter School Students in Comparison to Performance of Students at State’s Traditional Public Schools

Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) Salutes Continued Success of Florida’s Public Charter School Students

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., (March 26, 2019) – A Florida Department of Education (FDOE) report released Monday shows students enrolled in the state’s public charter schools are continuing to outperform students in traditional public schools in overall achievement and learning gains.   The report also found that achievement gaps continue to be lower among charter school students when gaps are studied between white students and African-American students and between white students and Hispanic students.

State law requires FDOE to prepare an annual report on achievement of Florida students in public charter schools versus students in traditional public schools.  The report covers the 2017-2018 school year and includes only students enrolled in a school for a full year.  It compares student performance on Florida assessment tests in math, science, social studies and English language arts.

The report is divided into three sections to study overall achievement, learning gains and achievement gaps between student groups.  In overall achievement, FDOE looked at 77 separate comparisons of overall rates of grade level performance, based on the percentage of students who scored level three or above on Florida assessment tests.  In 63 of the 77 comparisons, charter school students showed higher rates of grade level performance.

Comparisons are also included in the report based on the percentage of charter school students making learning gains and the percentage of traditional public school students making learning gains.  Comparisons were made based on subject, grade level and subgroup and showed in 88 of 96 comparisons, the percentage of charter school students making learning gains was higher than the percentage of traditional public school students making learning gains.

A third area of assessment in the report is a comparison of achievement gaps, specifically the gap between white students and African-American students and the gap between white students and Hispanic students in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.  In 19 of 22 comparisons, the achievement gap was actually lower – and better – for charter school students than for students in traditional public schools.

“The student achievement report clearly shows Florida’s public charter schools are making a meaningful difference in the education of our state’s students,” said Robert Haag, President of the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools.  “We congratulate charter school students, teachers and administrators for their continued success.”

The FDOE report is a cooperative project of the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice and the Bureau of Evaluation and Reporting in the Division of Accountability.

The full 2017-2018 Student Achievement Report can be viewed or downloaded at: http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7778/urlt/SAR1819.pdf

About the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools

The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) is the leading charter school membership association in the state, with a membership of nearly 75 percent of all operating charter schools.  Since its inception in 1999, FCPCS has been dedicated to creating a national model of high quality, accredited public charter schools that are student-centered and performance-driven.  FCPCS provides a wide array of technical support, mentoring, training, networking, and purchasing services to its membership, as well as serving as an advocate for all Florida public charter schools.

 

FLORIDA'S PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS IN 2019...THE REAL STORY

The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) has updated the Fact Sheet on Florida's Public Charter Schools for 2019.

What Are Public Charter Schools?

Charter schools are non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations that have a contract or charter to provide the same educational services to students as district public schools. They are nonsectarian public schools that operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools. Charter schools must hire certified teachers, just like traditional district schools.

What types of students attend charter schools?

Parents of every economic, social and ethnic group choose to send their children to local charter schools. The demographics of the 313,586 students attending charter schools across the state are similar to those attending traditional public schools.

How are charter schools funded?

Charter schools receive funding from the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) using the same FTE formula applied to district schools. Charter schools must also pay an administrative fee to their district sponsors that cannot exceed 5% of their total FTE funding

Report shows that most students do better in Florida’s charter schools

In its annual report on charter school student achievement, the Florida Department of Education found that charter school students outperformed their peers in traditional public schools in almost all achievement areas.*

• A higher percentage of charter school students scored a level three or above on the statewide assessments in English Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies

• A higher percentage of charter school students made learning gains

• Charter schools were shown to have done a better job in reducing the achievement gap between white and African-American students, and between white and Hispanic students in nearly all grade levels

*Florida Department of Education, Student Achievement in Florida’s Charter Schools: A Comparison of the Performance of Charter School Students with Traditional Public School Students, April 2018.

Florida’s public charter schools by the numbers

657 Schools operating

313,586 Students enrolled

47 Florida counties where charter schools operate

1996 The year the first Florida charter school opened in Miami

11% The percentage of Florida’s public school students attending charter schools

MYTHS VERSUS THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARTER SCHOOLS

MYTH: Charter schools are private schools.

TRUTH: Charter schools are NOT private schools.

They are tuition-free public schools that are part of the state’s public education system. They operate with contracts (charters) issued by the local public school districts. They receive the same per pupil funding as district public schools, minus a five percent administrative fee paid to the districts.

MYTH: Charter schools are for-profit entities run by big corporations.

TRUTH: By law, all Florida charter schools must be organized as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations managed by volunteer community-based boards of directors.

About 20 percent of the charter schools in Florida contract with charter management companies for back-office services but they still operate as nonprofits under the governance of a volunteer board of directors.

MYTH: Charter schools have little or no oversight.

TRUTH: This is completely false.

Charter schools are closely monitored by their district sponsors and the state. They are required to file several reports a year to their district sponsors and state detailing their financial and operational status. Charter school students take the same state assessments as other traditional public school students. Charter schools are evaluated and assigned a school grade using the same standards and criteria as traditional public schools.

If a charter school receives two consecutive grades of “F,” the district sponsor may close the school. No public school operated by a Florida school district has ever been closed for poor performance, while 316 charter schools have been closed since 1997.

MYTH: Charter schools siphon money from School Districts.

TRUTH: Charter schools serve the same public school students who would have otherwise been enrolled in traditional public schools.

We believe that educational funding should be used for the benefit of students, whether they attend district or charter schools. Charter schools actually serve public school students at a lower cost per student than traditional public schools.

MYTH: Charter schools cherry pick only the best students.

TRUTH: Parents are the ones who choose charter schools for their children, not the other way around.

The doors of charter schools are open to everyone, pending space limitations. To help avoid over-enrollment, charter schools utilize a lottery system for the fairest selection process.

FLORIDA STATUTES AND RULES ADDRESSING CHARTER SCHOOLS

s. 1002.33 Charter schools

s. 1013.62 Charter schools capital outlay funding

s. 218.39(1) Annual financial audit reports

State Board of Education Rule 6A.6.0784

Charter School Governance Training

ABOUT THE FLORIDA CONSORTIUM OF PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS

FCPCS is the voice of the Florida charter school movement, with more than 400 charter school members. It is one of the oldest and largest charter school membership associations in the nation. Founded in 1999 by a grassroots group of charter school operators, it provides advocacy, support, resources, and networking opportunities to new and existing charter schools, parents, and students. FCPCS also promotes the establishment and operation of high quality public charter schools throughout the state.

FORT LAUDERDALE

1225 SE 2nd Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316, Phone: 954-463-9595, Fax: 904-212-0300

TALLAHASSEE

113 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301, Phone: 850-201-7145

[email protected]

facebook.com/FLcharterschools

Twitter: @CharterSchoolFL

 

Feeding Florida Provides Food, and Hope, to Those Affected by Hurricane Michael

Alert from Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools

On October 10, 2019, Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle as a catastrophic Category 4 storm. In its wake Michael left a trail of destruction across an 80-mile swath from Panama City to Apalachicola and inland, leveling homes, schools and businesses, ripping apart roads, and destroying the region’s agriculture. It was the most devastating storm to ever hit the area.

Twelve Florida counties were the hardest hit by Hurricane Michael, including Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington. Many area schools were badly damaged or destroyed. Students’ education was significantly disrupted, some for more than a month. In Bay County, an estimated 50 percent of the students lost everything. Twenty-five percent of the elementary age students did not return when school resumed, forcing the school board to consolidate facilities and close three elementary schools.

Once the storm passed, organizations such as Feeding America and Feeding Florida’s network of partners and food banks arrived within twenty-four hours to provide meals, food, water, and supplies for hurricane survivors.

Florida’s Charter Schools Can Support Feeding Florida

Feeding Florida and its partners across the state and around the country are committed to supporting the Panhandle’s hurricane-ravaged communities. Florida’s charter schools can help. Through your support and donations, Feeding Florida and its partners can continue to provide meals and healthy food to the hurricane victims, giving hope to those who need it most.

Consider conducting a Food & Fund drive. Just register with your local food bank. A list of food banks is provided below. Then contact them to get started. You’ll receive a kit to help launch the event. Or hold a fundraiser to make a monetary donation. For every $10 donation, Feeding Florida can provide 62 healthy meals. For more information, click here: https://www.feedingflorida.org/taking-action/donate

To learn more about how your charter school can make a difference for the families, children, and seniors impacted by Hurricane Michael, contact the Feeding Florida food bank in your area.

Please don’t let the survivors of Hurricane Michael be forgotten.

Feeding Florida unites 12 Feeding America member food banks who work with more than 2,300 community-based partner agencies to provide food directly to individuals and families in need.

Feeding the Gulf Coast (Panhandle Area)
5709 Industrial Blvd.
Milton, FL 32583
(850) 626-1332
Contact: Cathy Pope
https://feedingthegulfcoast.org
Serving: Bay, Escambia, Holmes, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington counties

America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend
4446 Entrepot Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL 32310
(850) 562-3033
Contact: Rick Minor
http://www.fightinghunger.org
Serving: Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla counties\

Florida Gateway Food Bank
553 Northwest Railroad St.
Lake City, FL 32055
(386) 755-5683
Contact: Suzanne Edwards
http://floridagatewayfoodbank.org
Serving: Columbia, Hamilton, Suwannee, and Union counties

Bread for the Mighty Food Bank
325 Northwest 10th Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 336-0839
Contact: Marcia Conwell
https://www.breadofthemighty.org
Serving: Alachua, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, and Levy counties

First Step Food Bank
4045 NE 36th Ave.
Ocala, FL 34479
(352) 732-5500
http://firststepfoodbank.org
Serving: Marion County

Feeding Northeast Florida
1116 Edgewood Avenue
North Jacksonville, FL 32254
(904) 513-1333
Contact: Frank D. Castillo
https://www.feedingnefl.org
Serving: Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns counties

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
411 Mercy Drive
Orlando, FL 32805
(407) 295-1066
Contact: Dave Krepcho
http://www.feedhopenow.org/site/PageServer
Serving: Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia counties

Treasure Island Food Bank
401 Angle Road
Fort Pierce, FL 34947
(772) 489-3034
Contact: Judy Cruz
https://stophunger.org
Serving: Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie counties

Feeding Tampa Bay
4702 Transport Drive
Tampa, FL 33605
813-254-1190
Contact: Thomas Mantz
http://feedingtampabay.org
Serving: Citrus, Hardee, Hernando, Highland, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, and Sumter counties

Ending Hunger - All Faiths Food Bank
8171 Blaikie Court
Sarasota, FL 34240
941-379-6333
Contact: Sandra Frank
https://www.allfaithsfoodbank.org
Serving: Desoto and Sarasota counties

Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida
3760 Fowler Street
Fort Myers, FL 33901
(239) 334-7007
Contact: Richard LeBer
http://www.harrychapinfoodbank.org
Serving: Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee counties

Feeding South Florida Main Warehouse
2501 SW 32nd Terrace
Pembroke Park, FL 33023
(954) 518-1818
Contact: Paco Velez
https://feedingsouthflorida.org
Serving: Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties
 

Charter schools, kids deserve same support as other district schools

The following is a re-post of an op ed column in the Palm Beach Post

By Marie A. Turchiaro

As a charter school administrator for the past 18 1/2 years, I’ve seen so much misinformation regarding charter schools and I’d like to try to set the record straight.

Myth #1 – Charter schools have no accountability. Every charter school completes a “Program Review” annually consisting of 158 benchmarks in Personnel, Curriculum, Finance, Governance, Food Service, Facilities, ESE, ESOL, Student Performance and Insurance. A team of Palm Beach County School District personnel comes out to the school to physically look at evidence of every single item. “Charter–Tools” contains 10-15 additional monthly benchmarks including ESOL meetings, Bilingual Verifications, Financial Statements, Transportation, ESE Compliance, Governing Board Minutes, etc. We also submit various other reports to both the state and the district, and use the district accountability systems. This is quite a bit of accountability.

Myth #2 -- For-profit management companies run charter schools. We do not have a management company, are a not-for-profit, and have a governing board comprised of volunteers in education and finance whose sole mission is to provide for increased student achievement. This is the case with almost all charter schools in Palm Beach County – a very small minority are run by for-profit management companies.

Myth #3 – Charter schools are not public schools. Yes, they are. FS 1002.33(1) says: “All charter schools in Florida are public schools and shall be part of the state’s program of public education.”

Myth #4 – Charter school students aren’t entitled to the same dollars as other district schoolchildren. FS1002.33(17) states: “Students enrolled in a charter school, regardless of the sponsorship, shall be funded as if they are in a basic program or a special program, the same as students enrolled in other public schools in the school district.” The statute later states that “funds from the school district’s current operating discretionary millage levy” must be included in these payments.

So Charter schools are public schools, do follow numerous accountability protocols, and are entitled to the same per-student funding as other district schools, including funds from the district’s operating discretionary millage levy – the referendum pledging to increase security and teacher pay.

The money follows the child, as it should. Period.

But let’s put aside the statutes and the “which kids are more deserving” arguments. Charter school kids are district kids. They live in the district, have attended district schools and have parents who are taxpayers. They will bleed red at the end of a gun barrel like district kids, yet don’t “deserve” the same protection as district children? All current charter schools follow the same licensure requirements for their teachers as the school district. They have the same training, work the same long hours, and care for their students. Don’t they deserve the same benefits?

Charter school kids belong to Palm Beach County just like other district kids do. They and their teachers deserve to be treated as such.

Marie A. Turchiaro is executive director of the Palm Beach Maritime Academy and High School, Lantana.

 

Erika Donalds brings years of commitment to school choice issue

She is the face of school choice in Florida.

The following is a re-post of an article from floridapolitics.com dated January 22, 2019

By Jacob Ogles

Erika Donalds today serves as the face of school choice in Florida.

But just a decade ago, the Naples mother and former Collier County School Board member had no strong opinion on the political issue that’s come to define her.

Donalds’ oldest child performed well at the neighborhood public school, and she didn’t want another option. She didn’t even think to ask.

“Similar to other parents, I didn’t know (about) school choice,” the Collier County activist said. “That’s until you need it. Then you realize there are not many options.”

When her second child had a negative experience in the public schools, she confronted the administration, who sided with the educator.

“It wasn’t the right fit,” she said. Then she looked for another place her child could learn. That was in 2013.

She ended up enrolling her son in a small private school. Then she learned of an effort to found a charter school her son could go to for free.

Donalds became involved in launching Parents ROCK, and when the school opened, there was an 800-student waiting list for a campus with 450 spots.

“That told me there were a lot more parents out there like me who wanted something different.”

In 2014, Donalds ran for Collier County School Board and won a seat there.

“I ran to be a parent voice,” she said, “and in hopes traditional public schools would become more responsive to parent feedback and students’ needs. My vision was (that) students would not need to leave public schools.”

She grew agitated, though, when she learned the Florida School Boards Association not only had put up a legal fight trying to stop state vouchers, but that they actively sought to limit the number of charter schools in Florida.

Soon, she led a fight to ensure school board members statewide need not become members of the FSBA. With other pro-school choice elected officials around the state, she became a founding member of the rival Florida Coalition of School Board Members.

Her husband, Byron Donalds, meanwhile won a seat in the Florida House and became a voice on school choice. And Erika’s own role continued to grow as a state advocate.

She elected not to run for re-election to the Collier County School Board in 2018, she said. That came partly from a desire for family time before her oldest son graduates.

Also, she grew tired of being in the minority on the local board even as her stature in Tallahassee grew, she said.

“The majority of the school board was not as passionate about public school choice as I am,” she said. “It was a better use of my time, passion and resources to direct energy toward what I think is the best way to reform. That’s an expansion of competition.”

With new Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former House Speaker and newly appointed Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, both choice advocates, she feels good about the role she can now play.

 
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