Editorial: What's Next for Charter Schools?
In the wake of last week’s National Charter Schools Conference in Minneapolis, a Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorial calls for public charter schools and traditional school districts to continue to “work together to develop quality, effective programs by taking the lessons of the last 20 years and putting them to work for kids;” such partnerships are “one of the most promising developments for the future.” The Minneapolis School District has asked the Harvest Prep charter school to run four district schools after its success in closing the achievement gap for African-American students. “It makes sense to replicate those methods for similar populations of kids elsewhere in the city…it’s also wise to leave room for new ideas and innovation. That's another crucial lesson from the charter experience -- a one-size-fits-all education approach doesn't work well for today's young people. In the next 20 years, both charters and traditional schools must focus on purging the programs that don't work, expanding those that do and being flexible enough to make changes that serve all students.”
Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune
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Jim Griffin, Colorado Charter School Leader, Inducted Into Charter Schools Hall of Fame
According to Westword, Colorado League of Charter Schools President Jim Griffin has been inducted into the Charter Schools Hall of Fame. "Colorado has been on the forefront of our nation's charter school movement and has provided other states with examples of how strong policies and effective leadership can have a positive impact on kids," said Nina Rees, CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Griffin was honored for launching the nation’s first comprehensive state charter school association; working with legislators and key stakeholders on issues ranging from facilities financing to state accountability systems and supporting schools with efforts including legal advocacy, new school development, group purchasing, and performance management. Over 78,000 students attend 174 charter schools in Colorado; about 10 percent of total public school enrollment in the state, one of the highest percentages in the nation. Griffin received the honor at the National Charter Schools Conference last week in Minneapolis. Three Minnesota education leaders were also inducted; sixteen others have been honored over the past five years.
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Op-ed: Why Charter Schools Work
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Harlem Village Academies founder and CEO Deborah Kenny writes: “charters succeed because of their two defining characteristics—accountability and freedom.” At her five-school network, which will soon serve 2,000 Harlem students, Kenny has seen those characteristics in action. “Smart, driven people want to work in a place that holds them accountable, where they'll work alongside educators who share their values—first among them, a belief that all children can learn at a high level,” Kenny writes. “When the union and political forces that are protecting the status quo finally come around to doing what's best for children, they will find that it is also what's best for the majority of teachers. Then we will see the best and brightest minds competing for the privilege of working in the teaching profession—a profession that will finally be elevated to its rightful place as the noblest in our nation.”
Source: Wall Street Journal
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Op-ed: California Governor Thwarts Move Legislature to Cut Charter School Funding
In a Huffington Post op-ed, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools President and CEO Judy Burton thanks California Governor Jerry Brown for stopping the Legislature from making a $50 million cut to per-pupil funding to public charter schools, which would have reduced funding by $100 per student. In California, public charter schools already receive, on average, $395 per student less than traditional public schools. “We, along with many of our charter school colleagues, are achieving phenomenal educational success with impoverished, high need students,” Burton writes. Over 93 percent of her schools’ 8,500 students come from low-income families; over 90 percent are Latino. Ninety-three percent graduate; 95 percent of those graduates go on to college. “Governor Brown thankfully restored this funding after an outpouring of outrage from teachers, parents, and students. But this was a ridiculous exercise. We should be spending our time, money, and energy educating kids. Not fighting legislators who want to play politics with them.”
Source: Huffington Post
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Op-ed: Protect Charter School Choice in Pennsylvania
In a York Daily Record op-ed, Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools Executive Director Robert Fayfich urges Pennsylvania’s Legislature to update the Charter School Act of 1997 by passing House Bill 2352, which would create a strong, independent statewide authorizer to oversee public charter schools and hold them to high standards.”The bill would foster high-performing charter schools, allowing them to seek 10-year renewals, while weeding out underperforming schools. HB 2352 establishes an unreserved, undesignated fund balance limit on charter schools, holding them to the same funding percentages as school districts,” Fayfich writes. In contrast, a second bill before the House Education Committee, HB 2364, would deny public school choice to any student whose district offers a virtual education program. The bill would also deny funding to charter schools if a district concludes it can meet student needs, “leaving school choice up to the districts who may view charter schools as a threat to revenue. This would leave public school choice up to school districts rather than parents and children in Pennsylvania.”
Source: York Daily Record
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U.S. Department Of Education May Issue New Guidance on Charters and Special Education
According to Education Daily, the recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on public charter schools and special education has prompted U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-California, to call on the Senate to pass a charter school bill adopted last year by the House. "The bill requires charter schools to have recruitment and enrollment practices that promote inclusion, retention, and engage students with limited opportunities to attend charter schools," he said. U.S. Department of Education innovation and improvement chief James Shelton said new forthcoming guidelines may include “charter schools’ obligations regarding recruitment, admissions, provision of a free appropriate public education, and accessibility." According to National Association of Charter School Authorizers President Greg Richmond, "Improving access and services for students with disabilities is a shared responsibility, requiring not only action by charter schools but also state education agencies that make sure charter schools get the necessary resources and supports, and authorizers who must actively monitor what's happening."
Source: Education Daily (subscription)
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Missouri Charter School Bill Would Hold Schools to Higher Accountability
According to the Missourian, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is considering legislation which would improve public charter school oversight while allowing charters to expand to beyond Kansas City and St. Louis. Under the new law, charters could be sponsored by any local school district or established in any district which is unaccredited or which has been provisionally-accredited for three years. Vocational and technical schools could sponsor charters, in addition to universities. "I think the big story is that this legislation will give parents in more areas of the state a public education option," said Earl Simms, spokesman for the Missouri Charter Public School Association. "But it also will hold the current and future charter schools accountable." Nixon said the bill contains some "important and significant steps forward" in accountability and that he will review the bill "very, very carefully" before deciding whether to sign it.
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