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State News

Bad press puts charter schools in lawmakers sights

By Lynn Hatter

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-990570.mp3

Tallahssee, FL – State lawmakers are taking a closer look at Florida charter schools after a rash of bad headlines throughout the year. Lynn Hatter reports state officials want to find ways to make the schools more accountable to Floridians, without taking away much of the flexibility distinguishing them from traditional public schools.

Several charter schools have been shut down this year for both academic and financial problems. In some charter schools, one person can hold more than one title: like being the principal, owner and chief financial officer. And according to the state department of education, half of the "failing" schools in the state are charters. State Senator David Simmons says it's time to make charter schools more accountable.

"Those that fail are costing not only a human toll but a financial toll and that's what I see as the relevance to this and that's what I think we've got to stop."

Charter schools are different from traditional public schools in that they have more flexibility in how they spend state dollars, and how students are taught. Teachers there are on annual contracts and do not have union protection.