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Newswire: October 11, 2011

Vol. 13, No. 39

SUCCESS. Great charter schools can and should succeed anywhere. First they need the opportunity to open, then they need the opportunity to expand. That’s what’s happening with Eva Moskowitz’s Success Charter Networks as it migrates from Harlem, the Bronx and the upper West side to neighborhoods in Brooklyn, including the up-scale Cobble Hill. Turns out, as increasing numbers of parents recognize, there is a need for better choices even in comfy neighborhoods. Moskowitz’s rapid fire growth of high-achieving schools is just one reason she will be honored at the Grammys of Education Reform next Thursday in Washington, DC. Two more days to get your tickets!.

BEST DISTRICTS? Maybe the reason parents increasingly clamor for choices beyond the inner city where the need is greatest is because all those “top” districts turn out to be overrated? Don’t believe us? Want to know how a district compares to others, to the nation or even to the world? Check out the The Global Report Card at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

PENNSYLVANIA PROWESS. The Governor of Pennsylvania today announced four key elements to his education reform package, a comprehensive approach to making schools better that gives parents more choice and accountability and educators more flexibility and professionalism: Opportunity scholarships for those stuck in failing schools; expanded tax credit scholarships for larger numbers of parents; a teacher evaluation system with teeth; and, expanded chartering opportunities. This looks like the kind of successful, united approach to reform that bi-partisan leaders boast about in Florida, Indiana, and Idaho to name just a few. Get engaged.

ONE STEP CLOSER. A bill that would expand charter schools by ending numerical and geographical limits just squeaked by the Michigan Senate and is on its way to the House. The Michigan Association of Public School Academies says this puts parents “one step closer” to selecting a school that works for their child. Michigan reformers, it’s up to you!

DON’T RENOVATE, TEAR THE HOUSE DOWN. After a series of reform efforts begun in the 1990s and led by former Chicago school chiefs Paul Vallas and Arne Duncan, the city’s public schools are still in the pits, according to a new study conducted by the University of Chicago. The takeaway? The days of piecemeal reform are over. Chicago needs to define a new school system that spotlights choice and includes options like charters, vouchers, blended learning, flipped classrooms. But, first and foremost to guarantee success in the classroom is training and hiring highly competent teachers for every subject, at every grade level, in every school, and ensuring school leaders have the capability to fire teachers who don’t measure up. The Chicago Tribune has it right: “Schools don’t improve without aggressive leadership.”.