We’ve received fresh information and new signs that competition for traditional public schools will result in better outcomes for all students. Competition drives results. Governor Ron DeSantis is already on a path that includes increased school choice. He’s tasked the state’s education department to propose a broad overhaul of the current education establishment in a little less than a year. In the meantime, we still have a battle brewing in the current state session over whether to mandate the recent local tax increases to be shared with charters in this and future years. If school districts truly cared about students first and foremost, we would not be having this conversation. But because powerful teachers' unions and entrenched school boards have fought hard for the status quo, we have to have these debates.
According to data from the Florida Department of Education, charter schools outperform traditional public-school outcomes based on student achievement 84% of the time. Moreover,charter school spending is 21% lower than traditional public schools per student.
Better outcomes with more than 8 out of 10 students with greater than 20% savings? Only in the traditional public education establishment is that not something to celebrate or at a minimum embrace. But now, there’s an update indicating the progress that’s finally on the precipice of being made. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports, About 1,800 fewer students attend Broward’s district-run schools this year, and School Board members are looking for ways to deal with that. Parents cite a lack of individual instruction, and bullying concerns, mediocre school grades and poor discipline for pulling their kids out of traditional public schools, according to surveys conducted by the district. The number of students attending traditional schools dropped from 226,424 to 224,634, while charter school enrollment increased by 826 students to 45,919. Enrollment declines leave school districts with fewer dollars and more empty classrooms. District administrators say improving school quality or addressing concerns about safety could help stop the exodus.
Bingo. Imagine what’s possible with even more competition and opportunity for students? It’s unfortunate that it takes a loss of revenue for the school district to care enough to evaluate raising its game. But it’s better late than never.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images