Charter Schools Win Contract Victory

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Legislation to create a standardized contract between charter schools and local school districts cleared a divided state House today. And it passed over the objections of most school boards.

Florida created charter schools in 1996. They remained public schools funded by state dollars, the legislation debated by the state House would take away bargaining power for local districts that must approve those Charter schools.

Rep Mark Danish of Tampa told fellow lawmakers educators are not happy. "All 67 school districts in the state of Florida do not like this bill"

Every teacher who is also a legislator voted against the charter change, like Rep. Carl Zimmerman. "All the School boards are down on it, all the superintendents are down on it, and a lot of charter schools are down on it."

Five Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the bill. But Representative Janet Adkins of Fernandina Beach, who supports it says the legislation will force unfriendly school districts to approve charters. "It's about the students. It's about making sure the parents have that choice to make those decisions for their students."

The legislation allows out-of-state companies to come in and be judged by their out-of-state performance, and it allows charters to begin operating while they're still negotiating with school districts.

Teacher and state Representative Karen Castor Dentel says the change will neuter local decision makers. "It will take all the decision away from the local school boards. They won't be able to negotiate their own contracts."

The legislation must still clear the state Senate where it will face a much closer vote.

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