Florida Charters A Top School Choice Option
By William Patrick - Watchdog.org // December 15, 2014
ABOVE VIDEO: Journalist John Stossel offers a comparison between traditional public school systems vs. charter schools.
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — New findings by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools are giving opponents of school choice a dose of the holiday blues.
Charter schools are the country’s fastest growing option for education reform, according to the December report.
About 2.7 million students attend public charters, a whopping 70 percent enrollment increase from just five years ago.
While the total number of charter school students is relatively small overall — about 5 percent compared to traditional public school enrollment — Florida is making noticeable gains.
In eight Florida school districts, at least 10 percent of respective student populations is enrolled in public charters, according to the report.
Miami-Dade and Broward rank among the top-10 counties in the country for most charter school students per school district, with about 15 percent of all students in both counties attending the pubic school alternatives. Orange County, encompassing Orlando, is ranked sixth in the nation among districts with the highest rates of growth in student enrollment, according to the report.
Only Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago had more charter students than Miami-Dade County in the 2013-14 school year.
Lynn Norman-Teck, communications director for the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools, says the numbers shouldn’t surprise; charter schools are meeting basic needs in the education market, she told Watchdog.
“Not every parent is happy with their assigned public school,” said Norman-Teck. “Some have the option of going to private schools if they can afford it, and some are stuck. With the advent of charter schools, parents have another option.”
Public charters get public funding, same as their traditional school counterparts, and therefore cannot charge tuition. They also tend to attract younger teachers who are often at an employment disadvantage due to the seniority model used in regular public schools.
“We hire a lot of young, innovative teachers who are looking for jobs,” said Norman-Teck. “With more flexibility, they’re choosing an option similar to why parents choose charters.”
In 2013-14, 623 charter schools served 229,233 students in 43 of Florida’s 67 counties.
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