Home » Newswire Weekly » Newswire: April 10, 2012

Newswire: April 10, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 15

Back from Spring Break or almost? While you were traveling/enjoying family/gardening/savoring fabulous meals/working or working out, the reform world continued to turn. To wit, here’s what’s happening around the U.S.

CHARTERS IN ALABAMA? Alabama – one of 9 states without a charter law continues to try to join the vocal majority. Lawmakers in the House are moving on a charter bill, albeit one with so many restrictions that families may have no ability to find a quality school for their child. One cheer for making some progress…

VOUCHERS IN LOUISIANA. The state not only has made a huge rebound on education following the disastrous Hurricane in 2005, but it has ensured that more children have true quality choices. The state’s leaders expanded its New Orleans-only choice program to a statewide program for all students who are either poor or zoned to attend public schools with scores of C, D, or F.

MICROMANAGEMENT IN CHICAGO. Illinois lawmakers are suffocating reform efforts in Chicago by blanketing the city with an onslaught of picky-picky bills. Class size, blocking school closings and consolidations, charter school discipline codes – there’s a bill for each one. This is all too close for comfort. Let the schools thrive with flexibility, rather than top down management that once distinguished the Windy City’s schools as among the worst in the nation.

CAMPAIGN IN GEORGIA. Charter advocates and opponents are arming themselves for an intense campaign at the ballot box this fall. At stake, nothing short of charter school choices for the state’s families. Expect billboards, TV ads and more. Mark Peezy, coordinator of the pro-charter schools campaign, says “part of the challenge in Georgia…is to help the Greater Georgia area…to understand school choice options can provide much-needed innovation in their local districts.”

SCHOOL BOARD HOSTILITY IN FLORIDA. The anti-charter school board of Volusia County doesn’t seem to recognize the importance of expanding learning opportunities in the Sunshine state despite the presence of over 500 effective charter schools and an accountability path that has made all schools better. The county continues to nix applications for charters.

MERIT PAY IN INDIANA. Thanks to a new law, Hoosier teachers will be financially rewarded based on their students’ test scores – a giant step forward from increasing a teacher’s pay based simply on years of experience and academic degrees earned.

TENURE REFORM IN MISSOURI. A toughening-of-tenure bill survived a Senate repeal in Missouri and is expected to go before the House this week. Right now the bill doubles the time for teachers to gain tenure – from five years to ten.

ONLINE SCHOOLS IN NEW JERSEY. Online learning is surging. New Jersey is poised to open its first comprehensive virtual charter high school, the New Jersey Virtual Academy Charter School. Another virtual charter, smaller in scope, also plans to open in fall 2012. The state is completing a final review, though, and it is hoped that they will do the right thing and move New Jersey into 21st-century learning.

MEANWHILE, IN WISCONSIN. Green Bay school district leaders may give the green light to the iLearn Green Bay online charter, so students seeking virtual options no longer have to transfer to other districts. iLearn will provide both all-online or blended learning options.

CHARTER INTEREST IN WYOMING. The Wyoming Association of Public Charter Schools is getting “calls almost on a weekly basis from groups who are interested in opening charter schools,” says the organization’s director, Kari Cline. The problem is that the state’s current charter law strangles possibilities to open charters. Wyoming currently has a grade of “D.” Goal of the state’s advocates of charters: organize to improve the law – fewer restrictions, more authorizers.

SUCCESS IN DC. Showing the power of charter schools that now have nearly 45 percent of all public school enrollees in the Nation’s Capital, the 2011 graduating class shows that Washington, D.C. charters graduated nearly 80% of all their senior classes, on time, versus 59% in the traditional public schools. Wow.

In Other News…

The Essential Guide to Charter School Law is now available! Charter School Laws Across the States, ranking and scorecards reveal which state are making the grade for charters and how the U.S. as a whole fares.What does it take to ensure that great charter schools proliferate and succeed? Jeanne Allen explains that “while some state laws are still as great as intended when they were created, many states, just like schools that complain they are forced to ‘teach to the test’ rather than deliver exceptional education, have just gone through the motions, passing laws that give very little life to charter school reforms.”

REDEFINED. An important new development in the blogosphere is redefinED which gives voice to non-traditional supporters of school choice who understand why the need – and demand – for choice is so prevalent. Check out the post by civil rights and NAACP leader, Rev. Manuel L. Sykes, a Democrat, whose metaphor clearly explains why choice works: “You can’t plant roses in every environment,” Sykes told redefinED. “You have to find the right environment for that flower. Or that orange tree. Or that apple tree. If we’re wise enough to know that with trees, why don’t we have the same common sense with children?”