It is hard to find an education advocate in Florida who believes the education bill passed by the Legislature during its secrecy-shrouded special session was good for our public schools. School boards, school superintendents, teachers, parents and civic groups have all railed against this misguided legislative monstrosity. One portion of the measure that has drawn particularly widespread scorn — and deservedly so — is the part pertaining to charter schools.
We understand some members of the public and the Legislature believe families should have more education options than just those that already exist, and we do not necessarily disagree. But what House Bill 7069 does is try to boost charter schools, many of which are for-profit operations, at the expense of Florida’s public schools. And we are not talking about a little bit of money, either.
If it was just about the money, that would be argument enough to go back and revisit this law. The Legislature voted to give an estimated $96 million in capital outlay money for charter school construction and improvements, $50 million in direct state funding, $140 million for “Schools of Hope” in neighborhoods with failing schools plus local tax dollars for both capital outlay and operations.