University Preparatory Academy in Pinellas County claimed it would outperform all the local public schools.
But 69 students have left the school in the early weeks of school, complaining of bullying and other problems.
They are returning to their local public schools.
The Tampa Bay Times writes:
Children are leaving University Preparatory Academy, the charter school that promised to do better than their struggling neighborhood schools.
They are leaving in droves.
Since the school year began, 69 children have withdrawn from University Prep. They are returning to Maximo Elementary, Woodlawn Elementary, Bay Point Middle and other under-performing traditional public schools.
Earlier this month, 20 children left in one week. Eight have left in the past three school days.
Four teachers have quit, along with the school’s curriculum director.
A Pinellas County Schools administrator interviewed parents last month, when 23 children had left, to determine whether University Prep was telling families to leave. But parents said they were pulling their children voluntarily. They were concerned about bullying, missing textbooks and other issues.
University Prep has received initial approval to open a school in Tampa next fall, and has explored campuses in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Cheri Shannon, the school’s founder and principal, says the St. Petersburg school with just under 500 students is experiencing “growing pains” typical of a charter’s first few months.
Egged on by Jeb Bush and his powerful political machine, Florida has been eager to hand out charters and slow to enforce any quality control.
The end game is to marginalize traditional public schools and eventually to turn over the lion’s share of public education to for-profit charter operators and chain schools.
That way, education will be just another consumer good, not a civic obligation.
And the motto of education will be: caveat emptor.
Take your chances with fly-by-night operators, schools run by ex-cons, schools run by fast-buck entrepreneurs, schools run out of church basements.
That’s the vision.
Florida wants to be first in making it happen.