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Florida's Race to the Top money to build more charter schools in poor areas. [View All]

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-30-11 02:20 AM
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Florida's Race to the Top money to build more charter schools in poor areas.
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Not much left for public schools, I hear. Some of the charters wait until the money is doled out, then they "counsel out" under-performing students...sending them back to public schools. But they get to keep the money.

Federal "Race to the Top" Funds Used to Build More Florida Charter Schools in Poor Areas

This week's cover story about Mavericks in Education Florida explores the pitfalls of a for-profit charter school company that promises to help at-risk kids. Florida has been especially friendly to charter schools, allowing private companies to continue opening them using taxpayer dollars, even if they encounter academic and financial problems.

But it's not just Florida. The Obama administration is also a fan of charter schools. With his landmark "Race to the Top" initiative, the president encourages the expansion of charter schools. Some observers, including my sister, Sara Goldrick-Rab, an education policy professor at the University of Wisconsin, have raised questions about this emphasis on charters and who stands to benefit from it. In Florida, at least $20 million of the $700 million "Race to the Top" grant the state received last year will be used to open "high performing" charters in poor neighborhoods.

Then there is Mavericks High School.

Mavericks also aims to help students in low-income communities. Wonder if it will be considered for a grant. The fund says there will be a competitive process to pick charter-school grant winners, emphasizing "candidates with quality academic achievement, potential growth and financial sustainability."

Hmmm. Mavericks has debt problems and low graduation rates, and its schools score "incomplete" on state report cards. But this is Florida. It may still have a shot.

Mavericks has Frank Biden as its president, and he is using his family name to push his school.

Francis W. Frank Biden, a younger brother of Vice President Joe Biden, is a real estate developer in Florida. He also is helping a for-profit company open charter schools in the state by employing a major asset: his last name. In February, Frank Biden urged the Palm Beach County School Board to approve a charter school proposal from the company, known as Mavericks in Education.

I give you my word of honor on my family name that this system is sustainable, Biden told the board in the videotaped Feb. 2 special meeting. This school will be sustained.

Afterward, the board voted to approve the Mavericks proposal, overriding a staff recommendation to deny the application because of questions about its fiscal soundness and academic quality.
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