Florida must hold charter schools accountable in wake of closure, big payment

November 7, 2012 

As a 35-year veteran of the public school system, I feel compelled to respond to the Herald editorial on Oct. 30 regarding the shameful distribution of funds to a failing charter school principal. As the new principal of the Manatee Charter School and a proud team member of one of the nation’s most successful and fastest growing charter school management companies, I say, “Bravo!” Yes, you read that right. It is absolutely shameful to see a failing charter school and an unsuccessful principal gain a huge profit from doing a bad job. In this case, the system mostly worked — the school was closed. However, it didn’t go far enough. We strongly advocate that the auditor general investigate this outrageous payment and have it repaid to the state if possible. Furthermore, Charter Schools USA supports stronger accountability when it comes to overseeing charter schools when they are failing academically or financially. However, one or two bad apples do not define the charter school education reform movement. A Florida Department of Education study released this year proved that charter schools consistently outperform traditional public schools, and a recent TaxWatch study showed that these same schools are funded 30 percent less. We do more for less. And as a for-profit company, we pay taxes, which is something a taxpayer-funded school district does not do. There are more than 65,000 students on waiting lists for high performing charter schools in Florida and growing each year. Charter schools close the achievement gap faster than in traditional public schools and educate more minority students. We’re here to promote a better option for students and parents. The wonderful success our students are experiencing at Manatee Charter School should be the story the media dwells on. Our students are getting a great education that’s what this should all be about. Nancy Beal, principal, Manatee Charter School Ellenton

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