Charter School Data Upsets Broward City Commissioner


By: Sharon Aron Baron

We recently published compelling data that shows Broward County Public Schools are outperforming their charter schools as a whole. One of the surprising things discovered was that two top charter schools, despite telling the public they were doing a better job, were not serving students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

When studying the socioeconomic makeup of Coral Springs Charter School and Pembroke Pines Charter Schools, it was discovered that they were not representative of their nearby Broward County Public Schools. Yet, despite higher socioeconomics, their performances were equal or only slightly better on the 10th grade reading results.

Data Analyst and charter school parent Andrew Ladanowski believes some schools may be misleading the public into thinking they are doing a better job than others when the truth is, it is the socioeconomic makeup of the school population.

Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo

Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo

This did not sit well with Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo who called our data “disingenuous and slimy.”

The data showed that Pembroke Pines Charter High School only had 12 percent of all students on free lunch compared to 30 percent at nearby Flanagan High school. Data

For the study, we used free lunches as the benchmark for socioeconomic status. According to the USDA, the income eligibility guidelines for a family of two is $20K, for a family of three it’s $25K. The data, which was taken from the State of Florida, was used to measure the students that attend either Broward County Public Schools or charter schools by socioeconomic factors via the free lunch program. What Castillo was upset about was that our data did not include “reduced” lunch data.

“First, I have three college degrees and am the one teaching you about charters. So you should listen more,” said Castillo. “I’ve been reading statistical reports for a living for the past 30 years. Secondly, the category is free and reduced lunch because irrespective of their income deviations they are a category together. Nobody separates these that’s why they get reported together. They are constantly referred to together as a category because it makes sense.”

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, when students apply for free and reduced meals, there are separate income requirements to qualify for each of these two different programs.  See separate income requirements for free and reduced Parents that apply on behalf of their children bring in the documents to the schools which are verified, according to Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness.

 Ladanowski says that by combining the data of “free and reduced” is misleading the public, and it’s too wide of a range.

“When we look at the schools, we should separate three criteria to really see how children are doing at all them: measure them by those that are on free, free and reduced, and regular students. This will give you the big picture.”

Public Schools Outperform Charter Schools in Broward County

About Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs, Parkland and the rest of South Florida.


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  • Colleen

    So the implication in this “study” is that due to generalities, students in higher socioeconomic groups should always perform well? That it’s okay to state that charter schools are woefully underperforming their public counterparts when the data is equivalent? What school of journalism did you attend again? Because frankly, I feel like we should look into the quality of education THEY are providing.

    Not better, just different. We should be proud that all Coral Springs schools are performing well, not tearing down individual schools for no reason at all. I’m not sure what your end-game is, but I feel you’ve been deceptive to your readers through this whole process. So glad to hear the “good” news about our local charter school your promised us last week, but I’m troubled that your misinformation will cost Coral Springs teens opportunities in their education.

    • Colleen. Thanks for reading. Please read the first article which has the state data. I did not write the statistics. I only report them. When lower socioeconomic factors are tied into grades, they go down. This isn’t anything that was “generalized.” You should be proud of CSCS. No one is saying it is a bad school. It is a great school, and it seems to work for you. As far as the good news about the CS…I haven’t completed that story yet. Data takes awhile from various state and local sources to obtain before I run with stories. That one should be next.

      Thanks for reading.

  • Cher

    Thanks for a great series of articles. I’d to know why lower socioeconomic families are not participating in Charter Schools. Is it because of transportation issues? Or are they simply unaware that Charters are an option for their student? Or could it be something else?

    Taxpayers pay for Charter Schools. We should know whether Charters are serving the entire community (as public schools do) or only some of it. If the playing field isn’t level, and Charters aren’t serving lower income kids, or kids who are not native English speakers, or kids with disabilities, then taxpayers deserve to know that.

    The strong positive correlation between income and academic performance is well documented. If people are unaware of that, then perhaps your future articles can explain that relationship, too?

    I agree with Mr. Ladanowski regarding parsing the data into 3 categories. .