Preserving the promise of American opportunity: Our Public Schools

Preserving the promise of American opportunity: Our Public Schools

MISSION: 

The League of Women Voters of Florida supports a free public school system for Florida. LWVF strives for a system with high standards for student achievement and with equality of educational opportunity, and will strive for a system that is financed adequately by the state through an equitable funding formula.

The League supports a review of funding sources to provide adequate, equitable and quality education. Key issues include:

1.  School choice – The League has completed a statewide study on school choice. See the consensus statements here. Advocacy has been centered on requiring greater accountability and transparency in financial management and reporting.  The League has also been tracking the relationship between not-for-profit as required by statute and for-profit management companies.  This topic will require continued monitoring and advocacy.

2.  School vouchers – The league opposes school vouchers in any form, based on LWVUS’ position.  Florida Corporate Tax Credit scholarships have undergone greater oversight as a result of legislation from the 2014 session.  We will watch for the results of audits and restrictions on political campaign contributions.

The LWVF  joined the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the FTC scholarships as plaintiff with partners from the Florida Educators Assoc., the Florida School Boards Assoc. and the Florida Superintendents Assoc.  The case, entitled McCall vs. Scott, and the filing may be viewed here.  The Florida Supreme Court on January 18th has rejected this lawsuit.  See “In The News” below, or Click here for full story.

3.  Common Core/Testing – The LWVF has supported revised assessment standards that allow for comparison among states, districts and across the nation. This relies on the LWVUS study regarding the role of the federal government in public education. In Florida, Common Core has been revised as the Florida Standards.  The state contracted with a testing firm that also administers the test in Utah. We support achievement testing and reporting the outcomes; however, the LWVF also recognizes that the transition from FCAT to the FSA will require time for educators and students to successfully master the material.  We will continue to monitor this process with full support for making a successful transition.

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself~ John Dewey

HAPPENING NOW and LWV Education Blog: 

For the most up to date information about the LWV and education, please visit our blog. In it,  you will find data, studies, and perspectives that inform the discussion about school choice. Use this information to advocate for education in your community! See state specific news here.  Trending Blog posts below:

Florida Appeals Court Overturns Ruling Supporting OPT OUT Parents

The Florida Appeals Court stated that the Leon County district court did not have jurisdiction over parents’ complaints about third grade retention based upon the Florida Statewide Assessment scores.  Instead, the court determined that the lawsuits should have been filed in local district courts where parents resided.  According to the Orlando Sentinel report, the Appeals Court ruling declared that the state assessment had a laudable purpose to ‘assess whether the student has a reading deficiency and needs additional reading instruction before or after being promoted to fourth grade’.

Voucher Students Get Dismal Results

I was particularly interested in this report about Ohio.  For many years the lead author, David Figlio, conducted evaluations of Florida’s tax credit voucher program.  Figlio is a strong advocate for competition.  In Ohio, he stated that competition helped public school students but hurt students with vouchers who attended private schools.

At the risk of being overly harsh, I have to wonder if the purpose of vouchers is to create ‘sacrificial lambs’ i.e. sending some students off to fail in private schools so those remaining in public schools will do better.  Nothing in me wants to believe such an idea, but until the quality of alternative choices is assured, that is the risk parents unknowingly take.

Read more here.

Florida testing bills surface. Read more here

CAPITOL REPORT 

IN THE NEWS: 

Charter schools vs. traditional schools: Legislature’s debate resumes on taxes to pay for both. 

TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers will try to force school districts to share part of their local tax dollars with charter schools so that those privately managed schools can enjoy the same access to money for maintenance and construction projects as traditional public schools. Click here for the full report.

In the just released US News Report on Best States, Florida ranks 24th overall, but there are some big highs and lows. While in overall Healthcare we rank 31st, in Health Care Access we rank at the bottom of the barrel, #49! And while we rank #29 overall in Education, we rank # 46 in Pre-K -12, but #1 in Higher Education. We also rank #43 in Opportunity, which includes Economic Opportunity, Equality and Affordability. And in State Integrity, #30.

For the full report, click here.

Citizens for Strong Schools vs. Scott et al:  

This lawsuit alleged that Florida’s educational system was not adequately funded.  The Gainesville Sun reviews the case: “Lawsuit shows weaknesses in educational system”. 

McCall vs. Scott:

This lawsuit alleged that the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program was unconstitutional.  The State Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs’ case lacked legal standing.  See the complaint here

See the ruling here.    

For the full story in The Gainesville Sun, go here.  

Alachua County Schools are Treading Water. See full article from The Gainesville Sun here.   

Leon County Circuit Court will consider a lawsuit filed by the Florida Education Association regarding school vouchers. See the full story on WXTL here.

Letter of the Day: School Vouchers Harm Public Schools

Florida Supreme Court Rejects Lawsuit Challenging Private School Choice

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Florida’s high court has thrown out a lawsuit challenging one of the country’s largest private school choice programs, according to the Associated Press.

The Florida Supreme Court did not say why it declined to hear the lawsuit backed by the Florida Education Association, a statewide teachers’ union, but the justices rejected the suit, McCall v. Scott, 4-1.

Click here for full story

League Joins Lawsuits to Ensure High Quality Public Education

The League of Women Voters of Florida and others have taken legal action to defend the state Constitution’s requirement to provide a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education.”

Read the complaint here.


League Concludes School Choice Study

Pat Drago, LWVF Education Co Chair

Pat Drago, LWVF Education Co Chair

Sue Legg, LWVF Education Co-Chair

Sue Legg, LWVF Education Co-Chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2012-13, the League initiated a study to better understand the oversight of public moneys that are allocated to charter schools and other private educational institutions. The League recognizes first and foremost it is a paramount duty of the state to provide for education and that charter schools, while privately owned and managed, are under contract to public school districts, funded by the public and must be accountable to the public. The League does not support direct or indirect tax credit funding for private schools.

Click here to access The League of Women Voters of Florida Statewide Study on School Choice Consensus Report on Charter Schools.

RELEVANT LINKS: 

 

Click here to subscribe to the LWV Education Issues blog.

The LWV Education Blog is a tool box filled with data, studies, and perspectives that inform the discussion about school choice, from across the US.

LWV Education blog link

The League of Women Voters of Florida Statewide Study on School Choice:
CONSENSUS REPORT ON CHARTER SCHOOLS

LWV Florida League Education issues


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