Response to Mr. Mayo’s column

Sent by: Lynn Norman-Teck, Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools on behalf of Robert Haag, President of the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools

Thursday, September 20, 2012
Letter to the Editor - Sun Sentinel
200 E. Las Olas Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Letter from Robert Haag, President, Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools:

I’d like to respond to Mr. Mayo’s column published in the Sun Sentinel on September 19, 2012.

Charter schools are public schools that are held strictly accountable on several levels. First, a charter school must meet the expectations of the families they serve. If that doesn’t happen – families leave the school. This is proof that the power of the parent is key to a charter school’s success. Secondly, by Florida law, and contract and stringent reporting required by their sponsoring district, all charter schools must adhere to a complex and stringent accountability system that includes meeting financial and academic criteria. The fact that a poor quality or failing charter schools close proves that the accountability system works and that only quality public charter schools remain open.

As an authorizer and fiscal agent, a local school district holds the power and has the obligation to monitor a charter school’s financial and academic performance. If a charter school fails to meet its contractual obligation, the district will demand compliance and may withhold funds until improvements are made and non-compliance issues are corrected or close the school completely. That is a very different scenario than the one district-run public schools face. Those schools can continually fail and continue to operate. In the case of Eagle and Smart Charter Schools, the District has been investigating the school since 1999 - as documented in the Sun Sentinel article “Charter School's Troubles Grow” dated July 8, 1999 – and several public meetings took place where District officials discussed the dire situation at those schools yet voted to allow the schools to continue to operate.

I disagree with Mr. Mayo’s statement that the private sector has dictated changes to our system of education. In an effort to secure the best possible education option for their children, parents have been the driving force behind the choice movement. Parental choice has reshaped the educational landscape in this country not politicians or the private sector.

There is room for improvement within every industry. We acknowledge that there are charter schools that have mismanagement and/or academic deficiencies. Fortunately, these charter schools represent a small fraction of the more than 500 charter schools operating in Florida today and there are triggers in place to make sure poor quality schools do not remain open. # # #

Robert Haag
Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools
1126 S. Federal Hwy, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316
(954) 522-2997

ABOUT Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools

Founded in 1999, the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) is a 501(c) support organization with a membership of 400 charter schools and three school districts in the State of Florida. Since its inception, FCPCS has acted to promote and support the establishment of high quality public charter schools within the state through the development and implementation of focused statewide activities, professional development and mentoring.