From Las Vegas to Philadelphia, NAPCS Report on Growing Charter School Enrollment Noted
News outlets across the country responded to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ report on rising enrollments in public charter schools nationwide. Dan Tafoya, director of the charter school office for Nevada’s Clark County School District, which saw a 64 percent increase in public charter school enrollment, the highest growth of any metropolitan area in the country, told the Las Vegas Sun his district sees charters as “incubators of innovation and pioneers in education.” In a press release, NAPCS President and CEO Nina Rees said: “The increase in public charter-school enrollment in all types of communities across America shows that parent demand for school options continues to grow. These numbers will continue to rise as teachers and parents work together to provide high-quality options in communities across America.” In the National Review, Jillian Kay Melchior said of the 13 percent increase in public charter school enrollment nationwide: “Sounds like a mandate to me.”
Sources: National Review, Las Vegas Sun, Miami Herald, Minnesota Public Radio, EdSource, 8News Now, Education Week, Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Youngstown Vindicator, Arizona Republic, Tucson Citizen, Kansas City Star, Boston Business Journal, Milwaukee Business Journal, FOX 59, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis Daily
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Diverse Charter Schools: the Next Big Idea?
Education Next explored the growing number of diverse public charter schools, which recruit a mix of black, Latino, and white families from various income levels and use teaching approaches designed to work with both advanced and struggling students. Public charter schools which focus on serving a diverse student population include D.C.’s Capital City Public Charter School, which President Obama visited in 2009; E. L. Haynes, also in D.C., High Tech High in San Diego; Larchmont Charter School and Citizens of the World Prep in Los Angeles; Summit in Northern California; the five-school Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) network; Community Roots, Brooklyn Prospect Charter School, and Upper West Success Academy in New York City; and Bricolage Academy, planned for New Orleans.
Source: Education Next
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D.C. Teachers Union Wants to Unionize City’s Charter Schools
According to the Washington Post, the Washington Examiner and WAMU, the D.C. teachers’ union wants to require public charter school teachers to unionize, a change that would require city council and Congressional approval. The move comes in response to the school district's announcement yesterday that it will close 20 more traditional public schools across the city. Scott Pearson, executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board, said he is not against charters electing to unionize, as some have done in other states, but called requiring charters to unionize "ridiculous." "Charters outperform citywide averages on everything from proficiency rates in math and reading to graduation rates, and a lot of the reason they've been able to do that is we give them the freedom to run their schools without significant interference," Pearson said. Public charter schools currently serve about 41 percent of D.C.’s students.
Sources: Washington Post, Washington Examiner, WAMU
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Utah Lawmaker Looks to Encourage New Charters
According to the Deseret News, a Utah lawmaker wants to make it easier for educators to seek out specific types of new charter schools, rather than waiting for them to be proposed. State Sen. Howard Stephenson told the Education Interim Committee on Wednesday that he is considering legislation to allow the State Charter School Board to use a "request for proposal," or RFP, process to issue a call for a specific type of charter school, such as a single-gender, military or at-risk charter, rather than wait for such a charter to be proposed. "He wants to see specific, innovative schools," said Chris Bleak, president of the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools. "I think ultimately it speaks to the choice that parents are looking for in education. Parents are looking for different options for different students." In Utah, more than 50,000 students, or about 8 percent of the state’s total public school enrollment, attend charters.
Source: Deseret News
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Chicago Promises Tough Scrutiny of Charters
According to Catalyst Chicago, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) promised to hold its charter schools to a high standard as it considers the renewals of 12 charter operators running 32 campuses. “Every school in every corner of the city, regardless of school type, must be held to rigorous accountability standards without exception to ensure all students have access to the high-quality education they deserve,” said CPS head Barbara Byrd-Bennett in a press release. “We can and will take action on operators who have failed to meet the terms of their agreements.” CPS is considering closing as many as 100 traditional public schools. Only two CPS charters have closed in the past five years. Andrew Broy, the executive director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, says he expects CPS will close some low-performing charters and give others shortened contracts with probationary terms.
Source: Catalyst Chicago
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Chicago Parents Demonstrate for More High-Quality Public Schools
According to Medill Reports, about 50 parents, students and community leaders demonstrated outside Chicago Public Schools (CPS) headquarters to ask district officials to replicate successful public schools, as part of a campaign by New Schools for Chicago to draw attention to the 123,000 students in under-performing CPS schools. “We’ve got great schools in the city, lots of great charter schools, great turnaround schools, great traditional schools. We just need more of those schools,” said Chris Butler, director of operations for New Schools for Chicago. Butler pointed to the Noble Network of Charter Schools and Urban Prep Academies as two examples of successful public charter schools that CPS should replicate. CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said by email that the district would “continue to replicate successful models and expand access to high quality school options—whether neighborhood, charter, magnet, military, etc.”
Source: Medill Reports
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Missouri Charter Schools Have New Roadmap for Establishing Standards
According to the St. Louis Beacon, the Missouri Charter Public School Association has published “Quality Standards for Charter Schools,” which lists benchmarks in five separate areas to help schools and families identify what makes a charter successful. “Listening to stakeholders and listening to legislators, we got the message loud and clear: Choice is important,” said Doug Thaman, executive director of the association. “But it has to be choice that is meaningful. These need to be schools of quality…the goal is not to be prescriptive,” he said. “Charters can create programs that are in the best interest of their children and their families. But what we wanted to do was provide standards that need to be in place so schools would have something they are working toward…What I hope we are looking for is very slow and measured growth…In Missouri, we are really focusing on quality.” Nearly 20,000 students attend public charter schools in Missouri.
Source: St. Louis Beacon