Home » Newswire Weekly » Newswire: July 23, 2013

Newswire: July 23, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 28

GOOD NEWS. On Sunday, lawmakers in NC finally reached an agreement on the state budget, which includes offering a $4,200 scholarship for low-income families to choose a school that is the best fit for their children. The budget, which opponents are already slated to take to the courts, also addresses teacher tenure by eliminating tenure for new teachers and sets up a modest performance pay bonus system. A $6,000 scholarship for children with disabilities is also expected to pass this week. Surely a “great leap forward” said Kara Kerwin, CER’s vp of external affairs.

NOT SO GOOD NEWS. It’s unfortunate that out of this same legislative body comes bad news for charter schools. Not only does SB 337 remove multiple authorizers from existing charter law, the proposal out of conference requires would-be charter applicants to pay no less than $500, and no more than $1,000 to the NC Charter Advisory Council just to have their application considered. Despite the efforts of CER and others to educate lawmakers, this is a rollback for charters in the Tar Heel State.

SIGNS OF HOPE. While many believe the education crisis in Philadelphia is a lost cause with poorly performing and unsafe schools, closures and hundreds of recent layoffs, there are truly signs of hope. Turnaround efforts through the Renaissance project and charter schools have not only changed lives but also whole neighborhoods. In a recent op-ed to the Philadelphia Inquirer, CER Vice Chair, Janine Yass said, “To fully understand what is at stake in Philadelphia’s education crisis, and why, amid the gloom, there are reasons to be hopeful, spend a few hours visiting the city’s lowest- and highest-performing schools, which are often found in the same neighborhoods, serving kids of similar backgrounds and challenges.”

PARENT POWER! When discussing her support for Wisconsin’s expansion of the successful school voucher program in Milwaukee, Green Bay parent Mary Rehburg summarized why vouchers are so appealing with the simple phrase, “I gave my son the choice.” That phrase epitomizes Parent Power and the satisfaction that comes from having more input in the education of their child. Not surprisingly, Rehburg along with scores of other parents in Wisconsin are now attending forums, and obtaining the necessary information to expand the amount of opportunities available to their children. Currently, no more than 500 students from a qualifying school district can obtain a voucher, which will be raised to 1,000 next year. As more parents attend information sessions and experience true Parent Power, the need to expand choice will become abundantly clear.

CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS. American Federation of Teachers head and BLOB mainstay Randi Weingarten stressed the need to “reclaim the promise of education” in a keynote address to an audience of rank and file union members convincing them to get militant on school choice. “You’ve heard their refrain: competition, closings, choice. Underlying that is a belief that disruption is good and stability is bad.” On the same day, AFT released a poll that unsurprisingly suggested parents are content with the public school system as it is now. However, a whopping 80 percent of Americans in a national poll conducted by The Center for Education Reform embraced reform through choice and charters. This is in addition to the 85-89 percent of black voters in Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky and Alabama who favor school choice, according to a poll released today by the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO.) Once again, parents show their willingness to support meaningful reform if it means more and better opportunities for their children.

CARROT AND STICK. A recent review by Georgia’s Department of Education revealed schools that received federal grants didn’t always have peachy performance records, bolstering the concept that receiving federal funds will not singlehandedly bring success. Prior to the debate over No Child Left Behind, federal funds were distributed to state and local entities that were free of any performance-based accountability. It was not until this century when the federal role properly became a data aggregator and performance conscious. The recently passed House version and the Senate’s version of ESEA reauthorization reveal that the federal government is once again in danger of shifting back in the wrong direction. However, CER offers A Reformer’s Course of Action calling for a bipartisan effort that blends accountability while incentivizing states to make real reforms. It’s time lawmakers realize state and local accountability is the real key to student success.

LOOKING FOR A JOB THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE? The Center for Education Reform is hiring! The exceptional candidate for Deputy Director of Digital Communications must have a deep understanding of education reform and policy to ensure content and mission consistency across all of CER’s e-properties and have experience in web development, content management, social media, and SEO strategies. CER is also seeking a Member Services Associate, a mid-level position critical to the organization’s success in building and activating grassroots leaders throughout the country with excellent customer service, database and office management skills. Contact hr1@edreform.com to apply.