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Newswire: April 9, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 14

THE MADNESS CONTINUES. With all due respect to basketball fans out there, the Louisville win might be nirvana for some, but we’re wondering why we can’t channel some of the sports enthusiasm toward education reform and help this laggard state actually adopt some measures that are good for kids and families. Kentucky schools rank near the bottom on national assessments. In Jefferson County, where Louisville is located, for example, student proficiency when compared to the rest of the U.S. is under 50% for both math and reading, and that’s in a district more advantaged than many other pockets of the state. Kentucky has no charter school law, no additional school choices, no real online learning programs, and no major teacher quality effort in play. It ranks near the bottom on the Parent Power Index, too! So with its victory recent, and the state spread all over the newspaper headlines, isn’t it time to channel some of that energy to the state house where numerous bills lie in wait? Take action here.

POWER TO PARENTS. The state of more states will be unveiled tomorrow, when the Center for Education Reform (CER) releases its semi-annual, national ranking of state education reform laws, assessing each state on the relative power it affords to parents to make fundamental decisions guiding the education of their own kids. Parent Power Index© (PPI)‘s interactive, web-based interface lets you compare your state to others on key indices, from charters and choice to teacher quality and transparency issues. While there is a growing body of data and information available to parents, policymakers, educators and the general public, the PPI is the first and only comprehensive evaluation of state education policy that is geared towards parents, continuously updated in real-time, and now, provides an arsenal of state and local resources. Be sure to bookmark this page for your perusal this week.

STRONGSVILLE STRIKES. It’s the fifth week of a union-led teacher strike in Strongsville, Ohio, and since early March, nineteen students have withdrawn from the school district. As teacher union demands intensify, it’s likely that more families will pull their children out of Strongsville City schools as the strike drags on. Last week the school board met with the Strongsville Education Association (SEA), under the guise of a federal mediator, to work out a solution to their demands on salary, benefits and pensions. After nearly 30 hours of negotiating last week, no deal was struck between the teachers union and the school board. As the strike moves into its sixth week, students and parents, without access to choice, will continue to serve at the mercy of the union led temper tantrum.

JERSEY BRAWL. The nation’s eleventh most populous state is seeing education on its hot burner again, and reformers are hopeful that the Christie administration will push forward and engage all the opportunities at its disposal on all fronts. Both in and out of the Garden state, observers look for trends here to dictate what’s possible in their own state. This year, three dozen charter applications have been submitted, keeping up a trend that usually ends up with only a few pre-chosen schools approved. A tiny little voucher program is tucked into the Governor’s budget, a state takeover of Camden is underway, and the teacher evaluation system that got NJEA buy-in initially is being challenged, of course, for it’s 35% reliance on student performance to measure teachers (which is actually fuzzy as the districts get to decide how to measure that student performance). Affluent jersey parents protest any change while the rest of the state continues to demand resolution to thousands of failing schools. Strong union control of politicians, Ds fighting Rs —  it’s a pretty grim picture of education all over the U.S., and urgency can come none too soon.

CELEBRATING PRINCIPIAL LEADERSHIP. The Accelerate Institute, a four-week intensive training program at Kellogg School of Management that provides charter-school leadership training, mentoring and placement for high-performing educators from around the country, is accepting applications for its first class of honorees of the Ryan Awards. Four awards will be given to school principals who help to close the achievement gap, foster an environment of excellence, and are determined to work against impediments to accelerate the achievements and possibilities for their students. The deadline for nominations is April 22, 2013 at 12 a.m.