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NEWSWIRE: December 10, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 46

SUPPORT FOR ACCOUNTABILITY. As teacher unions and establishment allies across the country marched on statehouses and in cities urging those in power to maintain business as usual, we thought it only too fitting to release poll results that reflect a strong desire to see increased accountability in schools. With the exception of many thinking Miley Cyrus’ antics as of late are far from normal, it’s rather difficult to find an issue such as school accountability that achieves overwhelming consensus among the American people. According to our most recent survey, 86 percent of Americans believe school officials should be able to fire a poorly performing teacher, and 62 percent favor performance pay policies to reward good teachers. The desire for accountability doesn’t stop with educators, with a plurality (37%) reporting they would write their state legislators on education issues. Read the full report on accountability findings and see how public opinion reflects a strong interest in changing schools so they work better for all children.

PARENT POWER? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT. On top of calling for more accountability, many parents today are saying they need more of a say in their child’s education, and even more expressed a desire for options if their child’s school was failing or not challenging enough. A new mobile ‘app’ for New York City’s 732 high school programs works to remedy this feeling, by allowing parents to compare school information and data. The app has reportedly been particularly helpful to those in most need of alternatives among immigrant and low-income demographics. Transparency and access to data are staples of Parent Power, which hopefully keeps expanding beyond New York City.

WORKING FOR SUCCESS. The benefits of choice continue to materialize at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Washington, DC, where once again the graduating class has earned a 100% acceptance rate to colleges and universities. In its mission to serve students who come from low-income backgrounds, Don Bosco offers a work-study program with outside partners that functions as a scholarship program so students can simultaneously work hard and cover the cost of their tuition. Thanks to this scholarship program, combined with a curricular emphasis on college and career readiness, 338 students and counting have a positive educational experience as they plan for their future.

WILL THE REAL GRASSROOTS PLEASE STAND UP. Parents may want access to options as established by our survey, but unfortunately may live in states where laws and policies aren’t in place to provide more and better schooling opportunities for kids. Take Zakiya Courtney of Milwaukee, for example, who at our 20th Anniversary Conference  recalled the struggle to expand school choice in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin so that those with less and in failing schools could have the same kind of access afforded to those in affluent neighborhoods. Courtney discussed her initial plunge into education and true motivation that should serve as a lesson to all parents who actively seek the best for their kids: “Everything that I have done has been a result of what it is that I’ve learned from my experience as a mother and a concerned member of my community.”

THANK YOU to everyone who supported us on GIVING Tuesday last week and helped make this first-ever day of giving a success.  There’s still time for you to make your end-of-year 2013 tax-deductible donation to CER at www.edreform.com/contribute/make-a-donation/.