E. Eugene Webb PhD
In Search of Robin
A lot of parents with K through 12 children in Florida are looking for options to the Florida public education system. If you were looking for some basic information on school choice, here is a good resource: Florida Department of Education School Choice.
public school Options
Florida Online School
Faith based schools
While the problem with public education has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been, for several years now, growing concern with the viability, and quality of education being provided by the state's public school system.
Universally managed by an elected board and relying on leadership from a hired public school System Administrator, these school districts are often political hotbeds. With Commissions and leadership provided by people who only asked the public to elect them because of a narrow focus on a specific issue or problem. Add to that the growing influence of teachers’ unions in the large public-school systems demanding more and more concessions and public education found itself in serious trouble.
One of the indicators of how serious the problem is, has been the rapid growth of private schools, charter schools, and faith-based schools.
Education is simply a service commodity. In other words, it's a business structure, whether public, private, or faith based that delivers educational services for specific students.
The problem has become, as special-interest groups demand more and more niche attention for their narrow student populations, and changing social morays affect how parents want their children educated. The public education system has simply become a morass of contradictory goals and objectives.
For a long time, parents had little option in the public school system. However, over the last decade or so the private delivery of educational services has become more widely available using home schooling, private and charter schools. There have always been private schools often very expensive primarily focused on those who have significant wealth to provide their children a specific type of education.
However, charter schools which are essentially funded from the same source as public schools, and home schooling have become viable options.
If you were looking for an opportunity to move your child into a less fluid educational environment, then the private school, home schooling or a charter school may be your answer.
Many people cringe at the thought of educating their children at home. It's kind of a combination of a fear of being locked up with your child all day in the house and the responsibility for their education. In fact, if you go to the Florida Department of Education site listed above, you'll see some information on home schooling that may surprise you.
In addition, home schooling is a significant industry of its own. In virtually every area, including some surprisingly small towns, there are home school co-operatives where parents share teaching responsibilities for various subject matter that they may not feel comfortable teaching, including providing athletic opportunities to students who are so inclined.
Home schooling is not inexpensive necessarily, but it does provide the parent more control over the educational process and the student a much safer and often more secure environment to learn in.
Charter schools are organizations that are authorized by the local school district to provide educational services to grades K through 12. Many of these charter schools are independent and operated by a local board of directors. Others are part of a growing nationwide industry of providers of charter school services.
Charter schools are funded based on the number of students whom they have enrolled so tuition, if any, is often low. One of the major drawbacks, however, of charter schools can be transportation to and from school.
Charters issued by some school districts have a requirement for the provision of some form of transportation, but it is not uncommon for their parents to have to provide education to and from school on their own.
Faith based schools, are generally operated by a religious denomination or a large church. They can be Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Methodist or any number of other faith-based organizations. They usually do not operate under the auspices of the local school district, although there are some charter schools operated by faith-based organizations.
Key to the faith-based K through 12 educational system, is the fact that you must enter one of these schools fully comfortable with and knowing that part of the curriculum will almost always include some introduction to and participation in the doctrine of the controlling religious organization.
All of this to be said, to point out the fact that as a parent in Florida, you are not tied to the public education system. There are numerous options, and they grow every day. In some cases, there are costs that can be quite large, and other cases, there are costs that may be quite reasonable. In almost all cases, there will be some form of transportation issue to deal with.
If you find yourself trapped in, frustrated, unhappy, and upset with the way your local school district is being run, and your children are being educated, check out the information above.
Remember this, the only way you can really influence your children’s K through 12 education is to get involved. There are a lot of options out there some much better than others, but the only way you'll find out what is best for your student or students is to do your homework.
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