Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran‘s department started Monday with the release of a report showing that charter students are outperforming public school students.
“There is simply no denying that choice works, particularly for minority and low-income students,” Corcoran said. “These results represent hundreds of thousands of Florida families who were empowered to make the best education decisions for their children and are reaping the benefits.”
“Gov. [Ron] DeSantis has made bold choice-related proposals leading into the 2019 Legislative Session,” the Commissioner added, “and this report provides further evidence that they are right for Florida.”
The release of the report couldn’t have been more timely. The Tampa Bay Times reports on a committee bill that would expand the Schools of Hope. This expansion would be in line with other moves from DeSantis, including moving to fully-fund special needs scholarships.
The data support these plays and more.
Based on test scores, the report contends that in measure after measure, charter students outperform public school students, including higher rates of grade level performance and lowering of the achievement gaps across demographic groups.
One key data point: 47 percent of charters are A rated, compared to just 28 percent of public schools.
Nevertheless, public schools have a higher percentage of B and C rated institutions.
Currently, nearly 300,000 students attend charter schools. And DeSantis, both as a candidate and in his nascent administration, has prioritized alternatives to public schools.
On the trail, DeSantis vowed to “support school choice options such as public magnet schools, district and non-district-managed public charter schools, Florida Virtual School, home education, and the various other choice options.”
There are political benefits for his position, at least anecdotally.
One school of thought is that stance helped him with African-American women, who see their children benefiting from charter schools.
In comparison, Democrat Andrew Gillum advocated a traditional model of education.
While school choice advocates will use the Department of Education this Legislative Session, other analyses raise caveats. Among those is a Dec. 2018 study from the University of Florida, which posited that charters are less responsive to the “neediest” students.
Undoubtedly, a counternarrative to this study’s findings will emerge as Monday progresses, so updates will be forthcoming.