1. Letters to the Editor

Wednesday's letters: Charter schools deserve fair share of local referendum money

Stifling intent of local voters | Editorial, April 14

Charter schools deserve fair share

A recent Times editorial opined that efforts in the Legislature to require school districts to share local tax revenues with charter schools are an "insult" to voters who approved special referendums that exclude them. The actual insult is to the 296,000 students, their parents and their teachers in Florida's 650 charter schools whom the Times would treat as second-class citizens.

Charter schools are public schools. Their students are public school students. Their teachers are public school teachers. Charter school parents pay the taxes that fund them — as do the charter school teachers. They deserve their fair share of public funding.

In 2017, a judge ruled that the Indian River School District must pay its five charter schools their share of a 2012 voter-approved tax earmarked for school operations. The judge rejected the district's argument that the law entitles charter schools only to funding from the Florida Education Finance Program. A similar lawsuit filed by three charter schools against the Palm Beach School Board is pending. How many more costly legal battles must be fought? By requiring districts to follow the law, the Legislature is eliminating the uncertainty.

Charter schools fully participate in the state's education accountability program — and have demonstrated impressive results. Last month, the Florida Department of Education released its annual charter school performance report. It found that students in charter schools are outperforming their peers in district-run schools in nearly every category. That includes lower achievement gaps between minority and non-minority students. That is public money well spent.

If voters approve a referendum to fund public schools for a specific purpose, all public schools — district-run, magnet programs and charter — should receive that money and be required to use it for that purpose.

Lynn Norman-Teck, Miami

The writer is executive director of the Florida Charter School Alliance.

Robbing teachers to pay charters | Column, April 23

What local voters wanted

In her excellent piece, Beth Rawlins points out that good people voted to tax ourselves to support the students in our public schools. The purposes were clear. There was no desire to use these local public school funds to improve the bottom line for charters run by for-profit corporations. This is nothing but an odious corporate welfare program. Rawlins highlighted the real world, school-by-school, actual classroom impacts. She reminded us that the voters weren't stupid. We knew what we were doing. We were voting for our public schools. Our legislators know better than to fall for this scam, and the leadership should yank these proposals.

Kathy Betancourt, Tampa

Social Security faces shaky future | April 23

Willing to forgo cost of living

Here's a novel idea. Ever since I started receiving Social Security six years ago, I've felt that I could do without the cost-of-living raises each year; $30 a month just wasn't going to make a big difference in my life, although I know for some, it can be significant. So why not let me, and maybe millions of others, opt out of the cost-of-living raises? This could result in billions saved over a short period of time.

David Lubin, Tampa