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NEWSWIRE: DECEMBER 17, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 47

GARDEN STATE GRINCHES.  The holiday season is a little less bright for Tracey Williams, whose charter school application was again unfairly denied.  The denial came with little feedback, a testament to the flawed application process in the Garden State.  The New Jersey Supreme Court sided with the State Commissioner, finding nothing suspect about a diligently completed application being repeatedly denied in a school district with no other alternatives other than a lone traditional high school. Allies of then Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez wrote “unsolicited” letters opposing the establishment of the charter school, in contrast to 130 letters from parents clamoring for a new schooling option in the district. An upstanding advocate and member of her community, Williams epitomizes the “mom and pop” aspiring school operator the State should be encouraging. Following this week’s ruling, Williams told Newswire the goal of Quest Academy was to give parents choices in a district where there weren’t any, and close an achievement gap that’s “bigger than ever.” The concerted efforts from enemies of reform may have been successful this time, but they can only withstand the tide of public opinion for so long.

CHARTER RULING MIX UP.  The unions thought it snagged another victory when a Washington state judge ruled on the constitutionality of the state’s new charter school law.  But due to a nuanced ruling and hyperbolic headlines, anti-choice advocates took to Twitter to declare the law dead in the water, when that actually was not the case. Evergreen State charter defenders aren’t out of the woods yet, given that the law’s constitutionality is up for an appeal to the State Supreme Court. But at its core, this process is nothing more than a weak attempt to circumvent the democratic process and impose the status quo by judicial fiat. And this trend will unfortunately continue, even if it means certain students will be unable to access a school that would give them a greater chance of success.

‘TIS THE SEASON TO SUE. Not to be outdone, the North Carolina Association of Educators has filed not one, but two lawsuits against recently passed reforms, specifically the Opportunity Scholarship program and the phase-out of teacher tenure by 2018. The union first went after the Opportunity Scholarship program, representing the vile depths some will go to deny students the education that’s right for them. Parents haven’t even yet had the chance to apply for the 2014 school year! Choice programs in Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., and Indiana have allowed kids to escape failing schools and have shown comparatively high graduation rates and student achievement.  Those attempting to block the program are blocking students from new and more opportunities. Bah humbug.

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS…. is the Opportunity Scholarship Program!  This little jingle from 2009 still applies today, as the Opportunity Scholarship program is being challenged in North Carolina, and anti-reformers are trying to combat Louisiana’s Opportunity Scholarship program.

ACCOUNTABILITY IS WORKING. An audit of the Louisiana opportunity scholarship program formerly limited to New Orleans, found several deficiencies in the program’s execution at the school level. Audit findings indicate that oversight measures at the state level are working to ensure the program is being implemented properly, and State Superintendent John White agrees with many of the audit’s recommendations, while also claiming many of the shortcomings have already been addressed. In its first year alone, the statewide Opportunity Scholarship program grew by a whopping 270 percent, a clear sign parents want access to better schools for their children. As the justifiable calls for increased accountability come in, it’s important to remember that yes partnering schools should adhere to standards, and better vetting of partnering schools should happen at the outset, but it’s not the place of state entities to regulate or promulgate new regulations for independent schools. And at the end of the day, ultimately it should be a parent’s decision to determine which school best meets the needs of their child.

12 DAYS. If you aren’t plugged into the Center for Education Reform’s Twitter or Facebook, you’ve been missing out on the 12 Days of America’s Attitudes Towards Education Reform. Give your followers and friends a digital gift by sharing a festive fact on your own twitter account or Facebook page.  There are still 7 days left, so there’s still time to spread holiday cheer and knowledge with a festive education reform fact!  

As you consider your YEAR-END GIVING, we hope that you will join us by renewing your commitment to education reform with a special investment in the Center for Education Reform to show your support for our next 20 years! There are just 14 days remaining to make your 2013 tax-deductible donation.  Click here to make a secure online donation, or mail your check to 910 Seventeenth Street, NW, 11th Floor, Washington, DC 20006 or call us at 1-800-521-2118. 

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