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Newswire: September 10, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 34

VINDICATION. One misleading report. That’s all it takes to tarnish a proud legacy of meaningful education reform, especially if the opposing side has an agenda. Former education chief and reform stalwart Tony Bennett quickly became the subject of controversy when a July news report indicated wrongdoing in the statewide grading system while Bennett was Superintendent. Unfortunately, there has been much less fanfare surrounding an official report vindicating Bennett and his sterling record during his tenure in Indiana. The report found Bennett acted appropriately in his oversight of school grading, when he sought to change grades of four charter schools. But the damage was done, and Bennett has since resigned from his post as Florida Education Commissioner because unlike others, he is devoted to a cause bigger than him. The still-young education reform movement needs strong proponents in leadership positions to help those who already strive to provide the best possible educational opportunities for students and families. But thanks to a rush to judgment and a BLOB surrogate with an axe to grind, we’re one short already.

“This independent bipartisan report is a vindication of Dr. Tony Bennett and his leadership of the Indiana Department of Education,” Cam Savage a former colleague of Bennett at the Department told Newswire. “And In the last four years, Dr Bennett’s policies have led to remarkable successes. Graduation rates, state assessments, AP participation and achievement are all at all-time highs. Parents have more educational options for their children than ever before through public charter schools and the Choice Scholarship Program. We’ve ended social promotion for students who can’t read by the end of the third grade. None of these accomplishments would have been possible without Tony’s leadership, so it is particularly satisfying that the false and malicious attacks against him have been so thoroughly repudiated.”

THE QUEST CONTINUES. New Jersey charter applicant Tracey Williams is back making headlines this week as her case is now before the New Jersey Supreme Court. In a tireless attempt to launch Quest Academy and provide a promising schooling alternative to 250 students, Williams’ charter application has been unfairly denied six times by the state, the only charter authorizer in New Jersey. Each reason for denial more ambiguous than the last due to a notably flawed application process. In search of credible grounds as to why the thoroughly completed and well-scored Quest application continues to denied, the state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case yesterday but it’s unclear whether any decision will help make Quest Academy a reality. Williams at this point is in search of answers and told Newswire this morning that her efforts, “May only be a victory for others… future schools, future applicants,” but she will press on!

MUSIC CITY MISSTEP. Seventy-one percent of Tennesseans support the creation of charter schools yet lawmakers in Nashville have been calling for a moratorium on these new public schools. This comes at a time when demand is at an all-time high that there’s only space for one in 20 students to attend a charter in Music City. This isn’t the first time the Nashville School Board has tried to halt charter growth. Just last year they denied a solid proposal from the successful Great Hearts Network. Its time state lawmakers really consider creating multiple and independent charter school authorizers to meet the needs of students in the Volunteer State.

REACH FOR TAX CREDITS. Calling all businesses and organizations interested in obtaining tax credits and creating more and better educational opportunities for Pennsylvania families. The Opportunity Scholarship Program takes business contributions and turns them into scholarships for income-eligible students in low-achieving schools to attend private or public schools outside their district. Tax credits are equivalent to 75 percent of the contribution, which can increase if a contribution is made in two consecutive years. Businesses can still apply, and the Keystone State provides a comprehensive how-to on its website. This program provides a win-win for businesses seeking to make a positive difference and students in need of educational options.

EDREFORM’S RATPACK. What do DFER’s Joe Williams, B4Ks Derrell Bradford, BAEO’s Ken Campbell, Uncommon’s Paul Powell and Choice Media’s Bob Bowdon have in common besides their dedication and passion for real reform? They all make up The Reformers – the only musical ensemble of successful education reform leaders by day and outstanding musical talents by night – who will hit the stage together once again on October 9, 2013 at CER’s 20th Anniversary Celebration. You don’t want to miss this “shin-dig” or the performances by edreform’s coolest “cats.” Register today at www.edreform.com/20th.

DON’T MISS OUT. Reserve your ad in CER’s 20th Anniversary gala program by Thurs. SEPT 12TH. Email events@edreform.com to reserve your space today! See www.edreform.com/20th for more information on tickets and table sponsor opportunities.