Scott's Tampa visit may highlight charters
TAMPA -- He'll have no shortage of things to talk about, but it's a fair bet that Gov. Rick Scott will try to change the subject this afternoon to talk about Florida's next big education reform topic: charter schools.
He'll be visiting Pepin Academies, a charter system that caters largely to special-needs students. Scott's appearance comes on the heels of his expected signing of Florida's tenure-busting SB 736, amid the dustup over education commissioner Eric J. Smith's abrupt resignation this week.
Discussion of SB 1546 -- the bill that would expand charter schools in Florida, and potentially chip away at school districts' power by granting authority to colleges, universities, and even private companies to open them -- was again postponed at yesterday's Senate PreK-12 Education Committee hearing. And this new bill analysis confirms what we suspected, that such changes raise potential legal problems. As you'll recall, the last time the Legislature tried to establish an outside body to independently authorize charter schools, the courts shot it down.
Taken all together, it looks like Scott suddenly has a lot of challenges on his hands. He had plenty of backing from Smith and the state Board of Education for SB 736. But now Smith is on the way out and the board is angry over how that was handled. Any predictions on where all of this is headed?