Tavares, FL - Oct. 11, 2012
Florida has regulations that provide incentives to create charter schools, and most School Boards are seeing charter school applications increase.
In Lake County, FL, we have several "conversion" charter schools, where existing County schools convert to Charter schools, and we have several other schools run by external groups. The Lake County School Board gets 2-3 applications for new charter schools each year, but most of them are incomplete and end up not going anywhere.
This article about a wave of Charter School applications in Duvall County, FL (Jacksonville area) indicates some unique reasons for charter school applications:
- Counties with POOR school rankings are
- Counties without poor rankings, like St. John's County, rarely see charter school applications and local parents reject them because the local public schools are highly ranked and respected.
Thus the big lesson for school district staff and officials is that if you get the school rankings up, there is less public support for charter schools that take funds away from the District. BUT, if you don't have good rankings, poor attendance, etc., your County will be the target for charter school applications which WILL be supported by parents who want better education for their kids.
A metric to watch is the backlog of applications for existing charter schools. In some areas with poor public schools, the existing charter schools have hundreds or thousands of kids on the waiting list to get in. In Texas, one article, slightly outdates, said 40,000 kids were on waiting lists to get into charter schools.
So, the other lesson is to monitor waiting lists for existing charter schools, and if they keep growing, the local school district better get busy and improve their rankings.
Effect of Florida Virtual Schools - another alternative Education system
And, of course, the other new competition for in-person teaching is virtual schools, where Florida is a leader. Imagine if you are a Senior in High School and the class you need is taught by a teacher known to put everyone to sleep, and you have an option of signing up for the class in a virtual, online internet school. Gee, if Districts and employees want to keep demand up for in-class teachers, they better also make sure the teachers are well respected by the students. On the other hand, use of virtual schools reduces the cost of teaching a student, and the question is whether the State of Florida or the School District gets to share in the savings.
Competition is a great incentive to improving education quality.