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Newswire: May 15, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 20

BORN TO RISE…is the name of Deborah Kenny’s new book about her journey to open a charter school, which now has grown into the renowned charter network, Harlem Village Academies. Kenny promotes a unique take on what makes a school work – culture and people. Creating an environment where people want to come to work coupled with hiring smart teachers and, then, empowering them to do their job without bureaucratic or union chains to weigh them down and guarded by strong accountability standards are her keys to success. Visit
Edspresso
for more on Kenny’s journey of what it takes to open the doors of opportunity to deserving kids and what John Legend has to do with the title of the book!

CHOICE OUTSIDE THE CITY. Charter schools in Illinois are centered in Chicago, with only 14 serving students in all of suburban and downstate areas. In “Unchartered Territory,” the Illinois Policy Institute chronicles the lack of options for families outside the city and speaks to the demand for all children to have excellent educational options. In a nutshell, they blame the authorization process for this failure and call for abolishing the charter cap for all of Illinois, equalizing funding for charters statewide, and more.

DATA DAMAGE. Imagine the surprise of Nevada’s Green Valley High School principal when he reads in U.S. News & World Report that his school has 477 students and is ranked 13 out of thousands of high schools nationwide. The reality? Green Valley has nearly 3,000 students and isn’t doing quite that well. The problem was inaccurately punched-in data by a consultant who is now working in another state. Learn more about why the trickle effect of this error is a travesty for accountability in Edspresso.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE. Nearly 80% of Memphis City teachers did a good enough job on their evaluations to most likely keep their position, while the remaining 1,350 scored low enough to put their jobs at risk. So, that must mean that a majority of city kids are doing equally as well. Right? Wrong. Students in this Tennessee town are struggling to achieve at high, even basic, levels of learning. This data questions the reliability of the evaluations and, joined with the data damage noted above, erodes confidence in not only the school system but colleges of education that are not producing top teachers. We can do better.

…SO IT COMES AS NO SURPRISE…that 71 percent of Tennessee voters strongly support the creation of more charters, according to a new survey commissioned by CER and conducted by Majority Opinion Research. CER President Jeanne Allen remarks that “these results demonstrate a demand for more effective ways to educate the state’s children. People want parents to have the power to choose a school for their child based on their needs not their zip code. And they want those parents to have a plethora of charter schools to choose from.” Nearly 60 percent of voters surveyed also favor multiple authorizers for charter schools. Currently, the state restricts authorizing to school boards, which too often view charters as competitors and do what they can to ensure charters do not get off the ground. Unfortunately, misinformation still abounds about charters. While 75 percent polled say they know at least a little about charters, only 26 percent of them were able to correctly define charters as public schools. Lots of educating to be done in Tennessee.