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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion
Sat May 07th 2011, 09:51 PM
The Orlando Sentinel has a two-part series about the way in which segregation is coming to Florida in the guise of charter schools. I am glad to see this finally being discussed. It does need to be addressed.

Florida charters less diverse than other public schools

Kindergarten teacher Stefanie Miller works with Theodore Lewis, 5, at Nap Ford charter school. (George Skene/Orlando Sentinel / April 30, 2011)

Segregation is making a comeback in Florida's public schools with the new wave of charter schools springing up across the state.

One out of eight charter schools has a student body with 90 percent or more of a single race or ethnicity, an Orlando Sentinel analysis of the state's 456 taxpayer-financed charters shows. That compares with one out of 12 traditional public schools.

Those top heavy charters are adding to the list of out-of-balance public schools that have perplexed educators since integration 40 years ago. Educators have worked for decades to reduce the imbalance through rezoning, school-transfer options, magnet schools and other devices to shift students and make schools more diverse.

But the charter trend is toward segregation, and more of the charters with skewed enrollments may be on the way. Charter supporters say they have the best intentions and are following state law. Besides, they argue, students are not being forced to attend schools favoring one race or ethnicity. Parents make that choice, they say.

State lawmakers and the Florida education department appear not not to be worried about "the demographic trends in the charter-school system they created."

The backers of charter schools seem to approve of the segregation being caused. They think it might be a good idea. It in fact seems to be their goal.

From Part 2 from the Orlando Sentinel:

Grouping kids by race or ethnicity in charter schools has merit, backers say

Kids study algebra at mostly white Legacy Charter High School near Ocoee. (George Skene/Orlando Sentinel / May 1, 2011)

Segregation in Florida's charter schools is more by circumstance than design, say charter supporters. They argue that addressing the academic shortcomings of students often means devoting more attention to minorities.

They point to annual state reports showing that black and Hispanic students who attend charter schools are more likely to score higher on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests in reading, math and science than their counterparts in traditional public schools.

They highlight successful charter schools, such as the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) national chain that targets black and Hispanic students. The KIPP charter, which opened last fall in Jacksonville and has 96 percent black enrollment, recently received accolades from Gov. Rick Scott for helping minority students achieve academically. That's justification for grouping students by race or ethnicity in charter schools, supporters say.

What needs to be mentioned is the militaristic, regimented discipline style at many schools such as KIPP. I do not understand why that needs to be. All children no matter race or ethnic group respond equally well to kindness and understanding by a teacher. I know that from many years experience.

And of course Jeb Bush's group is pushing this system of schools around the country. Levesque has been working with him since he was governor.

"I would not call it segregation," said Patricia Levesque, executive director of former Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, a lobbying group. "Charter schools may target minority communities because they want to provide those students with options."

Pardon my French, but that is BS. There are options in public schools for all races and groups. At least there will be until they keep taking so much money from the public schools to give to charters. That is a rather racist comment by Patricia Levesque.

The Orlando Sentinel education blog has hard-hitting post.

Will new law give Florida more “white” charter schools?

A bill passed by the state House today and now awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature could give Florida more little white schoolhouses catering to parents who want their kids out of more diverse schools that they complain are troubled by crowding, low academics and poor discipline.

The legislation allows “high-performing ” charter schools to be replicated elsewhere with local school boards having little or no say about the charter coming into their county.

For example, the Legacy High and Hope Elementary/Middle charters which share a campus in the Ocoee-Winter Garden area, might be able to set up shop in other school districts without going through all of the red tape that start up charters now face.

The blog ends with two very very interesting statements. It gets to the heart of so much of the reforms.

Lawmakers and charter supporters say it is not about segregation but parent choice. And some are choosing predominantly white schools.

Charter schools, which are free of many of the regulations that other schools must follow, are financed with tax dollars just like other public schools. The Hope/Legacy operation is pulling down more than $3.5 million this year.

Too many ideas of the education reformers are overtly one thing, covertly another.

I am glad the Orlando Sentinel is noticing.

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