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Newswire: April 24, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 17

LIFO Suction? Replacing “Last-in First-Out“ teacher hiring practices are nearing a vote in the land of ten thousand lakes, as Minnesota legislators debate a bill that is getting attention from around the country.

MORE BATTLES BREWING… From battles over closing charters to wars waged defending the status quo, at least some people’s blood pressure is beginning to boil over what are constituents’ good practices. To whit:

• The Buffalo union boss refuses to sign a teacher evaluation agreement that would allow New York State Commissioner John King to get federal money flowing to that city’s failing schools. Buffalo parents and community leaders have protested numerous times but the Boss is holding firm. Check back for updates here.

• The Trenton-based Emily Fisher Charter school is fighting for its life, amidst a sea of new data that suggests the state’s numbers are not only wrong, but if it goes through with closing the school there will be yet another indication that charters that focus on the neediest kids are not welcome in the Garden State. According to sources close to the scene and as noted in this blog, the school has enrolled a much larger share of children with special needs children and kids from the lowest-of-the-low-socioeconomic kids compared to higher performing charters. New data from St John’s University suggests that New Jersey charters may be serving disadvantaged students, but there’s a disincentive to educate the bottom if doing so means closure. No easy answers here, but this is a dilemma facing many today.

• Six St. Louis schools are facing similar issues. While the schools run by Imagine Schools have not fared well in the community, shutting them down means 3,500 kids face bad choice choices in the very troubled district. Negotiations are underway between the state and governing boards of the charters. With their education lives in limbo, the state would be wise to bring in new providers to ensure these students are well-served come fall.

• Three North Carolina charter schools are suing the state (a regular occurrence, sadly in a state that plays games with those working outside the box) to recoup more than $100,000 withheld from expected school payments. It’s not just North Carolina, of course, but throughout the country where schools have to scurry after their Fair Share. Hmmm, maybe that’s one for President Obama!

ARCH-SMARTS. The new Philadelphia Archbishop has not only taken on the cause of school choice with gusto, but now he’s committing to a citywide compact devoted to ensuring great schools — no matter what kind – for all kids. The Great Schools Compact unites city, state and local organizations in an effort to grow better school seats for kids. This alliance will hopefully help them attract monies from the Gates foundation needed to ensure the new supply. For more information, connect with the Philadelphia School Partnership.