The Phoenix Flyer

Cash flows into “8isGreat” as battle over public schools – especially charter schools – continues

By: - July 23, 2018 1:43 pm

The Republican Party of Florida, investment companies, education groups and fans of charter schools have so far contributed $167,000 to 8isGreat.org, a political committee pushing to approve a contentious education amendment to the state’s Constitution.

The largest contribution was from the Florida GOP — $100,000 on June 13, according to the state’s Division of Elections.

The so-called Amendment 8, on the ballot November 6, represents a legal, political and philosophical battle over who can or can’t control charter schools in Florida. It is the most controversial section of the three-pronged amendment proposal.

The official summary for Amendment 8 “permits the state to operate, control and supervise public schools not established by the school board.” That suggests that the state, rather than local boards, could approve and monitor charter schools.

Opponents say the language is misleading and ambiguous, and would lead to some sort of state entity usurping local authority over public charter schools. They have filed suit to kick it off the ballot.

Some two decades ago, Florida launched new “charter” schools designed to be free from bureaucracy and run by private groups. Today, that sprinkling of new schools has grown into one of the largest charter movements in the country, with tens of thousands of Florida students flocking to charters and bypassing traditional public schools.

The amendment, if passed, would open the door to expand charter schools in Florida.

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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