News briefs

Florida boosts charters at public schools’ expense

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law on June 15 a sweeping and controversial education bill that diverts public money to privately run charter schools. The legislation squeaked out of the state Senate on a 20-18 vote, with some Republicans joining Democrats to oppose the measure.

The 275-page bill was crafted behind closed doors by House Republicans and unveiled three days before the end of an extended session, with no opportunity for public input and no chance for lawmakers to amend it.

The bill will make it easier for privately managed charter schools to further expand in Florida and to receive additional taxpayer funding to boost their operations. It also includes $30 million in extra funding to expand a voucher program targeted at kids with disabilities.

School districts will now have to share with charter schools millions of local tax dollars earmarked for school construction.

Many critics also dislike a new $140 million “Schools of Hope” program that would subsidize specialized charter schools to set up in mostly low-income areas and encourage them to directly compete with struggling neighborhood schools.

The legislation also mandates that elementary schools must set aside 20 minutes a day for recess, while exempting charter schools from that requirement. 

Orlando Sentinel, June 15

Miami Herald, June 15

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