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Newswire: June 19, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 25

FAILURE TO LAUNCH. For all the rhetoric whirling out of the mouths of GOP leadership in Pennsylvania these days over choice as a civil rights issue or blasting educational destiny based on a zipcode, a scholarship bill that would save the educational lives of needy children and shore up a mainstay of urban education, Catholic schools, continues to languish in Harrisburg. Fingers point at both Governor Corbett and Majority Leader Turzai for holding up the bill for reasons that certainly don’t stack up when compared to the educational blight, particularly in Philadelphia, that blankets the state. Other states have stood up and delivered on vouchers – Louisiana and Indiana. And, GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has placed choice front and center in his education platform. Even the White House has done a turnaround, reaching agreement with Congress to expand D.C.’s Opportunity Scholarship program. So what’s the hold up? Pennsylvania’s leaders are beginning to give new definition to Keystone Cops when it comes to school vouchers.

MAYORS PULL TRIGGER. No equivocating here. At the National Conference of Mayors parent trigger received unanimous support. Bi-partisanship was in high gear as Democratic Mayors Michael Nutter (Philadelphia), Antonio Villaraigosa (L.A.) and Kevin Johnson (Sacramento) helped lead the effort. Union efforts to stranglehold Democratic votes against the measure failed to make a dent and, as written by Reuters reporter Stephanie Simon, is a “sign of the unions’ diminishing clout” within the ranks of their traditional allies. Brown University Professor Kenneth Wong is quoted on his view that mayors have become more “consumer oriented,” which is one reason they may back a parent trigger. Looks like all the efforts to put children and families first when it comes to improving education is having an impact on those in charge of running our cities.

BANKING ON CHARTER SUCCESS. PNC Bank designed a new fund to loan money to charters that plan to expand enrollment. Charters must demonstrate a proven track record, both in academics and finances. Funds can be applied to an existing facility, or to the purchase of a new building. Greg McKenna, managing director at PNC Capital Markets, is right on the mark when he says that “facility ownership and ability to expand is crucial to charter schools seeking to grow their enrollment . He adds that the new fund “is a convenient option for schools seeking growth in the near-term, but lack the necessary funds to move forward.” Good news for charters, not just in securing funds needed for facilities, but to legitimize their success and staying power.

NO CREDENCE FOR CREDO. Minnesota Public Radio cited an unnamed study (but we know it’s CREDO) that is methodologically flawed and has been challenged since it first was released in June 1999. Read CER’s Jeanne Allen’s statement to get the story straight on CREDO and charters.

WELCOME NINA. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools warmly greets Nina Rees as its new president and CEO. Mashea M. Ashton, board chairman for NAPCS, says the group is “pleased to have found such a high-caliber individual in Nina to take the reins as leader of the nation’s charter school movement.” Rees was the first head of the Office for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education, where she was responsible for spearheading innovative federal programs that included charter schools. She outlines her focus to be “to help replicate effective models, attract new education entrepreneurs and further garner bipartisan support.” She notes the staying power of charters, which “after two decades, it’s clear that charter schools can help preserve the American ideal of a quality public education.” Read more about Nina here.

IN MINNEAPOLIS? Visit CER and the Media Bullpen at the National Charter Schools Conference. We’re at booth 2211.