Government Accountability Office Probes Charters on Serving Students with Disabilities
According to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Education Week, a report from the Government Accountability Office found that eight percent of students at public charter schools had disabilities in the 2009-2010 school year, compared with 11 percent at traditional public schools. The percentage of special needs students enrolled in charters varies widely among states and individual schools. The differences could be a result of parental choice; fewer resources for public charter schools to serve disabled students; charters working not to label students, such as African-American boys, who are sometimes wrongly designated as disabled; and some charters discouraging disabled students from attending. The U.S. Department of Education said it would release new guidance to charters on serving disabled students. “Anything we can do to better equip charter schools to be able to serve the fullest range of students possible is something we support,” said Todd Ziebarth, vice president of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.
Sources: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Washington Post
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Op-Ed: Helping Charters Serve At-Risk Kids
In a New York Post op-ed, Bill Phillips, president of the New York Charter School Association, suggests ways to ensure that public charter schools equitably serve low-income students, students with disabilities and English-language learners. First, the 20 percent of New York’s charters that missed enrollment targets for all three groups should try to copy what works for other charters or give preferences in their enrollment lotteries. Second, lawmakers must remove barriers that prevent charters from serving at-risk students. Yesterday, the state Senate passed a bill allowing charters to use consortia to better serve at-risk students. The Assembly should follow suit. Finally, while charters must continue to address the issue, “it lacks perspective to penalize high-performing schools that fail to meet all targets. Schools with superior academic performance that enroll a large number of students in even just one disadvantaged category should be celebrated, not closed.”
Source: New York Post
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Poll: Most Georgians Back Charter School Vote
According to Georgia Public Broadcasting, a poll commissioned by the Georgia Charter Schools Association found that nearly 60 percent of 600 Georgia voters surveyed support a constitutional amendment to restore the state’s right to authorize public charter schools. Voters will decide the question in November, which on the ballot will read: "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?” “We felt that parents would support choices and support their own ability to make choices for their children in education," said Mark Peevy of Families for Better Public Schools. "We thought that was a strong point and certainly this polling confirmed it.”
Source: Georgia Public Broadcasting
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In Hawaii, Charter School Revamp Takes Effect
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed legislation Tuesday to reform the governance of Hawaii's public charter schools. "Senate Bill 2115 is a real game changer in the way we govern our charter school system, with a clear balance between accountability and autonomy that will result in increased student achievement," said Sen. Jill Tokuda, chair of the Education Committee, who sponsored the legislation. The state’s 32 public charter schools, which serve 10,000 students, will now sign performance contracts that proscribe academic and financial benchmarks. The law also strengthens monitoring of charters by creating of the new Public School Charter Commission, which will provide oversight and report annually on charter school performance. After the bill was signed into law, the state Board of Education appointed members to the commission, which replaces the Charter School Review Panel. The new commissioners include both educators and businesspeople.
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Newark School Advisory Board Postpones Vote on Leasing District Facilities to Charter Schools
According to the Star-Ledger and NJ Spotlight, Newark, New Jersey’s advisory school board postponed a vote Tuesday on a plan to lease six district facilities to six public charter schools, which could generate $2 million for the district. Three of the district schools are set to be closed at the end of the month; three would co- locate with charters. The leases require the charter schools to give preference to neighborhood children and those with special needs. In one case, the charter school will bear the cost of renovating a 19th century building. “We are clearly trying to serve the students in the area,” said Photeine Anagnostopoulos, the district’s chief financial officer. “This will benefit everyone.” With an overflow crowd of parents, teachers and students in attendance, the board postponed the vote until members could review the leases and get community input. Superintendent Cami Anderson’s staff said the leases must be approved by the end of the month for the charters to gain final state approval to open in the fall.
Sources: NJ Spotlight, Star-Ledger
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USC Releases List of Top 10 California Charters
According to KPCC and the San Diego Union-Tribune, the University of Southern California released its list of the top 10 public charter schools in California on Tuesday. The Preuss School, located on the campus of University of California-San Diego, topped the list. Researchers ranked schools on financial health, state test scores and dollars spent per classroom. KIPP schools claimed three of the 10 spots; four schools tied for seventh place. Half the schools on the list serve low-income students; at six campuses, more than 10 percent of the students are English-language learners. Two of the schools – Preuss and University High at Cal State Fresno – operate on university campuses.
Sources: KPCC , San Diego Union-Tribune