Weatherford’s “massive expansion” of school choice faces double-troubleby John Kennedy | March 25th, 2014
The Florida Senate dealt House Speaker Will Weatherford another setback Tuesday, dramatically scaling-back legislation aimed at fostering the growth of more charter schools in the state.
The action by the Senate Education Committee came only days after senators withdrew plans to consider a bill eventually doubling the 60,000 students now receiving taxpayer-funded private school vouchers in Florida.
Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, promised a “massive expansion” of school choice by lawmakers this spring. But with lawmakers nearing the midpoint of the two-month session, the choice push has gotten beat back – at the hands of fellow Republicans in the Senate.
“This is a plan that is just not yet ready for prime time,” said Education Committee Chairman John Legg, R-Trinity, who said that he is a “charter fan.”
Legg is business manager for a charter school co-founded by his wife. But he said the House-backed proposal favored by charter school advocates went too far.
The legislation backed by charter advocates would have required school districts statewide to use a standard contract that would apply to all charter school governing boards. Districts also would be required to make available under-used buildings and classrooms for lease to charter operators.
Also, the pro-charter proposal would make it easier for “high-performing” charter school companies operating out-of-state to enter the Florida market and expand at-will once they are here.