Americans pride themselves on being able to make choices for themselves, their families, and for their communities on issues like healthcare and education.
When it comes to education, Americans have a choice on which educational institution they send their children to, a choice which has been a contentious topic for several years involving public schools and charter schools.
Charter schools are public schools because they operate within the same public-school system, but Florida counties like Hillsborough and Saint Lucie have questioned the use of existing school district funding for charter schools.
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So, with the news this week that the Florida House had passed a bill that would require school districts to share referendum money with charter schools, advocates for charter school are still concerned whether charter schools will be still be allowed to shine in the sunshine state.
In short, advocates argue for charter schools to go through a fair and transparent application review process. Many concerns have been about the review process that Somerset Career Academy in Port St. Lucie experienced with the St. Lucie Public Schools board.
Some local officials and activists who support charter schools, are hoping that school board members Carol A. Hilson, Troy Ingersoll, Dr. Donna Mills, Kathryn Hensley, and Debbie Hawley, will all support Somerset Career’s application, which is up for final review at the next school board meeting on April 30th.
A recent poll released this month from the National Victory Strategies showed that 53% of Floridians were in favor of either Governor Ron DeSantis or the Florida Legislature stepping in on behalf of public charter school students and teachers to ensure that tax funds are divided equally.
Senate President Bill Galvano, House Speaker Jose Oliva, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran and Florida Governor DeSantis, all support charter schools, and school choice as a whole.
The Floridian contacted U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R) and asked for his thoughts on the subject, considering that St. Lucie County is in his congressional district.
Mast explained that he “loves” school choice because “it’s not government one size fits all. It’s innovation in education.”
He explained that he had recently taken a tour of Somerset College Prep. In Port St. Lucie, which is a 6-12 grade school.
While on the tour, he said he experienced “kids taking classes at Indian River state college already before 9th, “adding that a high number of them “graduate with a diploma and an AA degree at the same time” and others even graduate with a 4-year degree.
He explained that the education process is effective because “they ask the kids in 9thgrade to name 4 colleges they want to attend and then tailor the education of each child to meet the requirements to get into those schools.”
So, while the subject of school choice is not going to become any less contentious than it already has been, it’s not going away.
Charter schools exist because parents choose to enroll their children in them.