The Florida Legislature is firmly controlled by advocates for privatization, some with direct conflicts of interest because of their ties to charter chains. Last year, it passed the “Schools of Hope” law, creating a new program to bring in charter operators to compete with or take over low performing schools.

There has not exactly been a gold rush by charter operators but two have stepped forward and are having trouble meeting the state’s minimal criteria. (I got a one-day complimentary subscription to Politico Pro, so you may not be able to access the full  access the full article).

“A controversial program signed into law in June called “Schools of Hope” gives charter school networks designated as “Hope Operators” the ability to open a “School of Hope” within five miles of a persistently low-performing public school. Those operators, collectively, get access to a pot of tens of millions of dollars to cover startup costs, personnel and specialized educational offerings, plus are given the flexibility of being exempt from a long list of state public education laws.

“The State Board of Education will Tuesday consider Hope Operator applications for two charter school networks: Texas-based IDEA Public Schools and Somerset Academy, managed by Academica, a Miami-based network of schools that took over Jefferson County schools and may not meet the requirements for Hope Operator status.

“To become a Hope Operator, charter networks have to meet certain criteria laid out in the new law, which is itself currently the subject of litigation brought by school districts that compete with charter schools for students.

“Among those criteria is a requirement that at least 70 percent of a charter network’s students be eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch. But across Somerset Academy’s more than 60 public charter schools, the Florida Department of Education estimates only 60 percent of their students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch (89 percent qualify at IDEA schools)….

”The laws states that state education officials must also determine that the student achievement of the charter network “exceeds the district and state averages of the states in which the operator’s schools operate.”

When the “Hope”law was enacted, legislators expected an abundance of applications, but thus far there have only been these two.

Thanks to Congress, there is plenty of money there for charter operators. Florida seems to favor the corporate operators, the fast-food style of franchising and outsourcing.

If Florida legislators think that state laws are unnecessary for charter operators, why are they necessary for public schools?