Home » Newswire Weekly » Newswire: February 28, 2012

Newswire: February 28, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 9
 
BREAKING UNION MONOPOLY. Utah’s Senate Education Committee recently voted in favor of a plan to add teeth to an existing law that allows all teacher associations equal time to recruit members. The amendment just passed adds penalties for not following the law. Speaking in favor of the amendment, Charity Smith of the Association of American Educators argues that her job is to let teachers know there is a “professional, non-partisan choice in Utah with the (AAE). Time and time again doors have been shut in districts throughout Utah in favor of the union. We are simply asking for all associations to be granted equal access to teachers and for districts to be held accountable for violating the law.” Sounds more than fair. The bill has moved to the Senate for a vote. All in Utah, make sure your legislative representatives vote in favor of this amendment, Senate Bill 82. Choice… for teachers.
 
CHOICE WORKS IN PHILLY. Who says urban schools comprised of students living in poverty can’t show improvement quickly? Let them take a look at Research for Action, an independent study that shows strong first-year gains for children at all 11 of the city’s K-8 turnaround schools due to progress made by the Philadelphia Renaissance Schools Initiative. Seven of the schools are charters. Mark Gleason, head of the Philadelphia School Partnership, agrees that this report busts the myth that poverty means kids can’t achieve. “Dramatic improvement can happen quickly,” he says. He adds, “variety works,” since the 11 schools “are managed by a total of five different operators, all with some overlapping characteristics but using different strategies and approaches. This is strong evidence that we can put more kids in quality classrooms faster with one monolithic system.” In short, choice works.
 
CATHOLIC SCHOOL RESURRECTION. Another powerful school option in Philadelphia, the city’s Catholic schools, won a huge victory last week as four high schools were granted a reprieve from imminent closure at the end of the year. Upon the counsel of State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams (D-Philadelphia) – a tireless advocate for school options for parents and kids throughout The Commonwealth – and his own dedication to Catholic education, developer Brian O’Neill engineered both a second chance for the schools and ushered in a refreshed clarion call for expanding the existing EITC program and the much debated bi-partisan voucher bill championed many in the legislature. The effort has also established a foundation to continue the effort to allow Catholic schools, anchors of many Philly neighborhoods, to continue educating kids in the face of mounting budgetary concerns. “The grassroots efforts to save these schools, coupled with the advocacy of legislators and the generosity of many who wish to make our schools healthy again, brought us to this innovative new model for Catholic secondary education,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.
 
HELP THE FUTURE GENERATION OF GUARDIANS OF REFORM: Students for Education Reform (SFER) are up for the coveted Campus Champions for Change, sponsored by none-other than the White House! SFER is hands down the most relevant and impactful group on the otherwise worthy list of champions. But they need your vote to win. You have until Saturday at midnight to make it happen. Go vote now!
 
THE LEGISLATIVE ACTION HEATS UP. Education reform proposals are gaining steam in statehouses from coast to coast. Some are unique to the state, like Georgia’s battle for a constitutional amendment to restore charters as a choice, while other action is trending nationwide, including major efforts to end teacher tenure and replace it with effective evaluations in order to put teaching on par with other professions. Here are some of the latest updates from the states:
 
Charter Schools:
 
Georgia – Charter bill just cleared the House; Constitutional amendment progress; AND online education…
 
Mississippi – Charter bills in both the House and Senate, though the House version is much more broad (more work to be done)…
 
Idaho – House Education Committee graduates a bill to raise the charter cap to the full House…
 
Florida – Panel rejects the sharing of funds between charters and traditional public schools…
 
Teacher Quality:
 
Minnesota – Gov signs new teacher testing regulations and Senate passes end to tenure…
 
South Dakota – Sends a new teacher tenure bill to Senate…
 
Governors’ Education Plans:
 
Connecticut – Assembly debates Gov. Malloy’s education reform proposals…
 
Iowa – Senate passes an education bill, but it differs from Gov. Branstad’s original plan…
 
Vouchers:
 
Louisiana – The state school board voted Monday on a plan to start paying for the vouchers in New Orleans by drawing from the same pool of money set aside for public schools…