Charter school advocate: With lawsuit talk, Avossa aims to “wage war” on charters

Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa is expected today to ask school board members to consider suing the state government over a new law that requires county school districts to steer more money to charter schools.

Lynn Norman-Teck

One group, unsurprisingly, is not keen on the proposed lawsuit: charter school advocates and operators.

In response to Avossa’s declaration last week that the county’s public school system has “an obligation” to sue over the disputed legislation, House Bill 7069, the Florida Charter School Alliance has submitted a rebuttal.

Here is the rebuttal from Lynn Norman-Teck, a charter school parent and executive director of the Florida Charter School Alliance:

Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa will ask the School Board to continue to penalize families who support school choice.  The superintendent wants to join Broward County in a lawsuit to stop a new education law and funding formula that treats all public school students equally – whether they attend a district-run school or choose to attend a charter school.

 

Instead of making a rash decision favoring inequality, here are some facts that the superintendent and the board should remember:

 

  • Charter schools are public schools.

 

  • Charter school students are public school students.

 

  • The Palm Beach County School Board was elected to work on behalf of all public school students – that includes the thousands of students who attend public charter schools that the very same Palm Beach County School Board authorized and supervise.

 

  • Charter school parents are taxpayers who contribute to the property tax dollars used for schools – yet the superintendent wants to withhold those funds from their children, their teachers, and schools merely because they attend charter schools.

 

  • The sales tax increase that recently passed in Palm Beach County will raise an estimated $1.3 billion for public education, but not a penny will go to students who attend a public charter school.

 

For more than 20 years, public charter schools have been a vital part of Florida’s system of public education.  Unlike district-run schools, every charter school must continually prove itself. If families don’t select them, they close. And if they fail to make academic progress, they’re shut down. 

 

These accountability measures – along with impressive academic achievement, as featured in a Florida Department of Education report that shows that charter schools have made more learning gains (in 82 of 96 comparisons) and higher grade-level performance (proficient in 65 of 77 comparisons) statewide than district-run schools – should be lauded.

 

Instead, the Palm Beach County superintendent wants to wage war on the very schools that are helping students achieve academic excellence.

 

The lawsuit is wrong. It is an attempt to choke parental choice and penalize families who choose to attend a public charter school. 

 

Education dollars, whether allocated by the state or raised locally, should be allotted to the child they are earmarked for and not find their way into courtrooms in an effort to maintain a funding formula that treats one select group of students better than others.

 

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