How much flexibility should Florida's public schools have?
In announcing his education plan for the coming year, Gov. Rick Scott made clear his support for giving public schools more flexibility to meet parent choice desires:
"Like other public schools, charter schools are held to assessment and accountability standards to reinforce student achievement. Unlike traditional schools, however, charter schools have flexibility to determine their own curriculum, instructional strategies and educational focus. To increase and incentivize more competition and choice options for students and parents, districts that currently sponsor a charter school should be given the ability to open District Charter Innovation Schools that could be operated by the district with the same funding levels. This increased competition and choice for students and parents will drive continued success for our students."
The idea of giving districts back some degree of local control won praise from Wayne Blanton of the Florida School Boards Association, among others. It brought to mind the long forsaken idea of giving Florida school districts charter status of their own, so they can operate free of much of the red tape and bureacracy that the state ties them to right now.
That concept emerged in 1999, with Hillsborough County becoming the second charter district in 2000. But it quietly disappeared without much fanfare, as districts found it didn't always lead to the freedoms they had hoped to get.
Scott's comments make it sound as if he might be open to revisiting the charter district model. Should he go there? If he were to pursue it, how do you think the private charter groups might react? Seems like the idea of giving districts the ability to compete with charters of their own might irk some of the companies that make their livings competing with the traditional publics. Your thoughts?