Charter School Advocates to Gather in Minneapolis for Conference
According to the Pioneer Press, more than 4,000 charter school advocates will gather in Minneapolis this week for the National Charter Schools Conference. The first charter school opened in Minnesota 20 years ago this fall; now, more than 2 million students attend charter schools. "I think people like and support charter schools. We need to make sure that comes with the proper funding," said Nina Rees, the newly named president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "We should focus on quality and replicating effective models and keep space open for newcomers.” In her speech at the conference, Rees said she will call for charter supporters to embrace technology, improve accountability and continue fighting for funding. In addition, Rees said that authorizers should intervene more quickly with low-performing charters. "I think the next 20 years need to be about quality," Rees said. "Quality charter schools and quality charter school laws, so quality schools can flourish."
Source: Pioneer Press
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North Carolina Court Rules against Charters in Facilities Funding Suit
According to the Charlotte Observer, the North Carolina Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of a lower court’s August decision that public charter schools cannot receive public construction money. The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law filed the suit against Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Board of Education, among others, on behalf of nine public charter schools and dozens of parents and students in September 2009. In North Carolina, public charter schools receive per- student allocations from the state and local school districts, but they cannot request public dollars for capital construction projects. “Our position is that public charter schools are public schools, and students should have a uniform opportunity for funding,” said Jeanette Doran, the Institute’s executive director and general counsel. The Supreme Court’s decision is separate from an earlier ruling, in which the court refused in 2009 to hear the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district’s appeal of a lower court ruling that required the district to pay nearly $6 million in operations funding to local public charter schools.
Source: Charlotte Observer
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Expectation Grows for Maine’s First Charter Schools
According to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, expectations are growing for Maine’s first public charter school. Governor Paul LePage made passing the state’s charter school law a legislative priority last year. "There's a lot of expectation in the state to authorize at least one charter school," said commission member Dr. Richard Barnes. "To be successful, a charter school has to have some backing up front. It has to have a good deal of planning…And all of those have been put at risk by the tight time period that we have." Last week, the commission postponed authorizing two virtual schools; the governor sent the commission a letter of protest. John Jaques hopes to open a new high school, Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, in a renovated building near Portland's waterfront. A delay, Jaques told the commission this week, could cause the school to lose educators who have been working on the school’s design and curriculum. "It would also impact our ability to secure the facility as well," he said.
Source: Maine Public Broadcasting Network
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Bill to Help New York Charters Serve High-Needs Students Finds Foe in Union
According to Gotham Schools, a bill to allow public charter schools to form consortiums to offer special services to students with disabilities and English-language learners is seeing opposition from New York’s state teachers’ union. The Charter School Students with Special Needs Act has already been passed by the New York Senate’s education committee; an Assembly version was introduced two weeks ago. Last week, the union circulated a memo urging lawmakers to reject the bill, because it could result in “a huge expansion of charter schools.” Another memo, distributed by the New York Charter Schools Association and the New York City Charter School Center, explains that the bill “merely allows charter schools to do what school districts across New York State do now: gather students with similar needs to provide specialized programs.” The legislative session ends on Thursday; lawmakers are aiming to wrap up all of their bills by Tuesday to allow for a three-day waiting period required for public review.
Source: Gotham Schools
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United Nations Recognizes New Jersey Public Charter School
According to the Star-Ledger, a public charter school in Jersey City, New Jersey has been recognized by the United Nations for its curriculum focused on ethics and international issues. The Ethical Community Charter School received the honor from The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, earlier this month. The school is one of 50 nationwide that are part of UNESCO's Associated Schools Project Network. The network includes 9,000 schools in 180 countries. UNESCO chooses schools which use curricula that promote peace and international understanding.
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