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Newswire: July 17, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 29

PARENTS WANT CHOICE. In times gone by, parents understood that the school their children attended was determined by their zip code and, in most cases, the quality of that school would be driven by family income. The 1960s civil rights movement brought to the nation’s conscious the inequity in educational opportunities for children of color, with their parents demanding better schools. Parents today, from all walks of life, are taking up that dream and pushing for choice in schooling. CER’s Jeanne Allen, at the National Coalition for Public School Options Family Reunion, points out that “everyday evidence grows that demand for school choice is high and that it extends across the racial, socioeconomic, and political spectrum.” Most critical to the success of choice, in all of its forms, is that it is “embraced by the largest and most diverse coalition in recent history” and, today, that coalition is represented by “parents who want – and deserve – the power to choose the best school for their own child,” adds Allen. Parent power at work!

NC AND FL ON BOARD FOR CHOICE. The choice landscape certainly is welcoming in North Carolina and Florida. CER just released survey results that show broad support for school options and new charter schools. Seventy percent of those surveyed in North Carolina support the creation of new charter schools and the opportunity to choose among a wide variety of schools, while 60 percent of those surveyed in Florida do. In North Carolina, the strongest support for charters came from African Americans (85 percent), women (82 percent), and those with school-aged children (81 percent). The Florida poll found that 61 percent of those surveyed agree that charter schools should be funded at least the same as all other public schools. Florida has one of the largest funding disparities between charter and traditional schools in the nation, according to a 2010 Ball State University study and a 2012 Florida TaxWatch study. For more on the survey results click North Carolina and Florida.

JOCKS FOR CHOICE. Athletes are now getting into the game of promoting school choice. A group of athletes, prior to the 2012 ESPY Awards, gathered to discuss the importance of school choice and education reform in low-income communities. The Alliance for School Choice, the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and the Professional Sports Wives Association hosted the event. “I want to raise the profile and the success rate of the young men and the young women from my community, and the best way to do it is through education,” Rose, a former NBA star and ESPN analyst, said. Kevin P. Chavous, senior advisor to the Alliance and CER board member, explains that “for too many years we’ve sat back and observed the education crisis from a distance, and that’s no longer acceptable.” He calls for “bold leaders from every community and in every state to stand up and demand that our children have the opportunities they deserve.”

CHOICE FOR ALL. The urgency to give a lifeline to quality schooling certainly resonates most when it involves a child from a disadvantaged community in a forever failing school, but choice, really, is for everyone. All parents, from whatever economic bracket, deserve the option of selecting which school works best for their child. So, it continues to raise eyebrows when a charter school is rebuked if it tries to nestle into an affluent community. Success Academy, with an achievement record that lives up to its name, is taunted as it locates in more tony parts of Manhattan and Cobble Hill. Great Hearts charter also is bucking the brutal tide as it tries to set up shop in TN. What’s up with this? Certainly a top-notch traditional public school can compete with an equally excellent charter…

“RENEWAL”. And, to help all schools improve and move into the 21st century is Harold Kwalwasser and his new book, Renewal: Remaking America’s Schools for the Twenty-First Century. Kwalwasser, former general counsel of the L.A. Unified School District who also worked in both public and private sectors focusing on why organizations succeed or fail, understands that to reform American education takes a paradigm shift away from remnants of the Industrial era (seniority, tenure, single salary schedule) to more flexible environments that call for “ending a system designed to lose track of kids.” Read Edspresso for more on Renewal.