Corporatism, Education — March 31, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Florida Republicans want to force public schools to share their construction funds with charters


It could be worse, I suppose. We could be Florida.

At the risk of giving Michigan Republicans any ideas – because their love of destroying public education in favor of for-profit charter schools that sap resources from our public schools is well-documented – I present you with Florida House Republicans, leading from the rear.

A recent education reform effort, one supported by both Democrats and Republicans, went horribly awry when House Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Erik Fresen from Miami stuck in a provision that would require public schools to share tens of millions of dollars in construction funds with charter schools. And, ala Michigan Republicans, they did it without a single minute of debate on the floor of the House:

Without a word of debate Friday, the Florida House approved a controversial proposal that could require school districts to share tens of millions of dollars in construction funds with rival charter schools. […]

The bill found little opposition at first — until House Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Erik Fresen, R-Miami, added the contentious provision about construction funding.

Charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately managed, have long sought a stable revenue stream for construction and maintenance. Unlike traditional public schools, they cannot levy property taxes for that purpose. But school districts oppose sharing their tax dollars because most of the money is earmarked for debt service. What’s more, they point out that many charter schools are housed in privately owned facilities that do not revert to the public if the school closes.

The bill that passed Friday would ensure charter schools receive about 40 percent of the amount traditional public schools can raise for construction and maintenance, Fresen said.

If the state does not provide enough money in the budget, as it has done in recent years, the school districts would have to make up the difference with their tax revenue.

It’s bad enough that public schools are having their students vacuumed by charter schools, leaving with them with less funding for infrastructure that changes very little as students leave. Now they have to compete with these privately-run charters for construction funds, as well.

It’s a lopsided playing field that is aimed squarely at killing off public schools.

Trust me, it won’t be long before some Michigan Republican gets wind of this and tries the same thing here. We’re not the only testing ground for anti-public education legislative action. Not by a long shot.

Oh, I forgot one thing. The guy that introduced the legislation? His company builds charter schools and his brother-in-law is a charter school operator:

That Fresen sponsored the amendment was controversial. His firm has helped build several charter schools, and his brother-in-law runs Academica, the state’s largest charter school management company.

So there’s that.