The end of the Manatee County school board’s “budget workshop” on Monday turned out to be a charter school roast. Currently, 10 percent of district students have chosen charter schools, and the school district is feeling the sting.
Superintendent Tim McGonegal chose to show selected charter schools’ FCAT scores compared to public schools. One would think that the charter schools scoring about the same as the public schools would inspire him to look deeper as to why students are leaving public schools, but instead he used this information to criticize charter schools.
Pat Barber of the teachers union expressed disappointment that charter school teachers did not belong to the union. If they would get no benefit by joining, they appear to be wise in not doing so.
Dr. Vera Bradley, who should be monitoring the charter schools, chose to expound on the recent closing of the Richard Milburn School. It is interesting to note that her department received 5 percent of all charter school funding for the sole purpose of following their progress and auditing them. This is approximately $1 million a year, and the charter schools, in addition, pay for their transportation and food service. Yet Bradley’s department failed to catch the problems in the early stages and offer positive solutions.
In the U.S. school ratings, Florida falls 49th. Within Florida, Manatee is in the bottom third. The Manatee County school district is failing our students. Charter schools cannot be used to cover up this fact.