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01/23/2017

Florida Charters Fall Short on State Assessments

Over the last 10 years, Florida’s K-12 charter enrollment has increased 172 percent from 92,214 to 251,082 students. With that increase came tens of millions of state tax dollars for charters, yet despite this substantial investment, charters have failed to live up to the state’s mandate for “high standards of student achievement. This should come as no surprise given the lack of oversight. As part of its investigation into waste and abuse in Florida charters the Sun Sentinel observed “The statutes don’t address background checks on charter applicants. Because of the lack of guidelines, school officials in South Florida say, they do not conduct criminal screenings or examine candidates’ financial or educational pasts. That means individuals with a history of failed schools, shaky personal finances or no experience running schools can open or operate charters.”4 In June of 2016, Florida lawmakers improved disclosure requirements, yet there is still no restriction that would automatically disqualify a charter applicant based on problematic disclosure findings. In addition, according to an analysis conducted by the Miami Herald, $70 million in taxpayer funds have gone to charters that closed not long after

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