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Newswire: August 6, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 30

THE FOUR C’s. Complacency, Choice, Conventional Wisdom, and Change. Those were the four C’s highlighted by CER’s own Kara Kerwin at Virginia Governor’s Bob McDonnell’s Education Summit, during a panel discussion on how to expand the charter school sector in the Old Dominion. In recent years, Virginia has been plagued by a “culture of complacency with the status quo due to unwarranted praise their education system has received. Consequently, there has been a lack of motivation to make the state’s education policy more friendly to charter school operators and other proponents of choice. The conventional wisdom still dictates that Virginia is doing alright and that constitutional barriers exist preventing meaningful reform. However, lawmakers need only look at what Kerwin labeled a “big fat F” on Virginia’s charter law report card to realize it’s time for Change.

BATON ROUGE PARENT POWER. Another day, another news report exhibiting how Louisiana continues to lead the pack in providing Parent Power. Three new schools are opening in the Baton Rouge area, two of which are charters. If parents weren’t paying attention to the changes happening within their district, this would all be moot. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, administrators are claiming parents are coming into offices, asking specific questions on school policies and characteristics, and trying to ensure their child attends the school that’s right for them. This is the natural result when parents are presented with choices, and another reason why Parent Power is alive and well in the Bayou State.

PETTY POLITICS In a powerful column this week, CER Board Member and noted education reformer Kevin Chavous recalled the obstacles he’s faced in state capitols across the country in trying to persuade lawmakers to overcome political division, and do what’s right for America’s students. It became evident that for many so-called representatives of the people, politics comes first, and our kids second. Many politicians may want to support legislation that would provide school choice to students in need of another option. But if the guy across the aisle favors it too, partisanship tends to take over at the expense of more and better opportunities for families. Only when legislators display the courage to lead and achieve bipartisanship will students actually benefit..

DOG DAYS? It might be the dog days of summer but it’s actually anything but behind the scenes where many organizations are hard at work developing major surveys, reports and policies that will soon be out in the public eye and fueling much discourse and dissension. There’s the annual and often biased PDK/Phi Delta Kappan poll on August 21; a look at international trends through PISA on December 3, latest look at trends on SAT scores on September 24. The Center will be looking to see if there are glimmers — or sunrays — of hope in the data so that lawmakers might have good excuses to act. Stay tuned.

CONFERENCE REFORMERS ANNOUNCED! When CER turns 20 this October, there may be an evening gala to celebrate 20 years of achievement, but this will take place only after the day-long conference to keep us all focused on what still needs to be done in delivering meaningful education reform. Providing substantive insight on the past, present and future of ed policy will be a stellar lineup of over 25 reformers, who will participate in a wide range of panel discussions. For more information on the conference participants, gala, and how to register, visit https://edreform.com/about/events/20th-anniversary/