For the past two years, Frank Biden’s been flying around the state talking to local school boards, lobbying for the Mavericks High charters. “I’m a salesman. I’m nothing but a P.T. Barnum for these kids,” he says. Biden’s not an educator. He served as a legislative director in the Clinton administration and worked for a humanitarian aid group in Nicaragua before settling in South Florida. He lives in Ocean Ridge and is currently developing a country club community in Costa Rica. [...]
On Florida’s state report cards, Mavericks schools have scored “incomplete” because not enough students have taken the FCAT while enrolled there. Mavericks officials expect that grade to change as more students enroll. And this year, two former Mavericks teachers filed whistleblower lawsuits against Mavericks High of South Miami-Dade, alleging, among other complaints, that the school is not offering Florida high school diplomas.
The Maverick High School website features a throwback sound effect and for some reason, a speech by Obama.
In a new investigation I wrote for The Nation, I explored the explosion of for-profit education reforms across the country. The piece actually focuses on the growth of online schools in Florida, an epicenter for neoliberal education reform. Governor Rick Scott vastly expanded charter schools, opening the door for even more taxpayer money to flow to for-profit education management companies like Maverick, as well as e-learning high schools, which Frank Biden has a hand in as well:
Now Mavericks has eight high schools in Florida, including five in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. The schools offer shorter days designed to appeal to at-risk kids. After one hour of traditional classroom instruction, students spend three hours a day sitting at rows of computers, studying online at their own pace, under the supervision of teachers. This approach is meant to allow students with babies, jobs, and other responsibilities to get a degree instead of dropping out
Lauren Roth at the Orlando Sentinel reported that Maverick is among the many for-profit school companies, like K12 Inc, looking to take advantage of the new law allowing more charter schools.
Also worth plugging this great piece by the Miami New Times from a few months ago. Reporter Gus Garcia-Roberts exposes the various high school diploma mills that have taken advantage of Florida’s decision to experiment with for-profit K-12 education.