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NEWSWIRE: December 3, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 45

POSITIVE CULTURE. We were on the ground today touring Democracy Prep Endurance Charter School in New York City, where it shares a building with a traditional public school. As we made our way towards Endurance’s classrooms, the cultural shift in the building’s atmosphere became abundantly clear. Detailed, colorful banners lined the hallways, students were more engaged and the overall positive feel made it obvious that a higher level of learning and education was taking place. However, co-located charters like Endurance could be constrained if Mayoral elect de Blasio keeps his promise to force charter schools to pay rent, diverting resources away from kids and towards City Hall. Charter schools like Endurance should be encouraged to expand so their culture of excellence is accessible to more students across the Big Apple, not inhibited by a system that limits their chances of success.

MAKING PISA MATTER. The 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores were released today, and US students unsurprisingly fared worse than many of their international peers. Not only did US scores actually drop  from 2009, but they didn’t even break the top 20 highest-performing countries in math, reading and science. There was never a realistic expectation that American achievement was going to catapult to the top of the list, largely because lawmakers fail to enact real education reform to foster student growth. According to PISA’s own description, the purpose of administering the test in the first place is to motivate policymakers to re-examine their educational system and make necessary improvements based on results. The ongoing fixation with the US ranking is unproductive without the motivation to enact policies that revolve around choice and accountability. If anything, the drop in US test scores demonstrates that the system as it functions today is no longer viable.

GETTING THE WORD OUT. It’s one thing for lawmakers to implement parent empowering policies that foster choice and accountability, but it’s equally critical to actually make them aware of their power. We try to do our part with the Parent Power Index (PPI) as well as creating resources for parents to improve their child’s school, and many other groups take a similar initiative. There is often a disconnect between policy implementation and parental outreach, especially when it comes to education reform. Government bureaucrats often make misplaced efforts at informing parents, lacking the necessary fervor and grassroots mindset that make parents eager to explore alternatives and make a positive impact within their communities. On top of that, anti-reformers attempt to quell the excitement about the ability of parents to remove their child from failing systems and place them in schools better suited to their needs. It’s essential for all of us to get the word out, and ensure parents are knowledgeable about the power afforded to them.

A FAMILIAR CHALLENGE. A new report shows that charter schools in South Carolina are lacking the proper facilities necessary to provide the best education possible to the students they serve. In addition to being unable to sell bonds for facility funding like traditional public schools, the Palmetto State’s charter school law doesn’t allow for any additional facility funding. Public school funds also pass through the district, a surefire way to underfund charters and allow districts to manipulate education dollars as they see fit. Unfortunately, this is not a new obstacle for charter schools nationwide, and this report advocates for per-pupil allocation of funds that would be devoted to facilities. Hopefully lawmakers resolve to fix this glaring inequity within public education.

TODAY is #Giving Tuesday!  Please consider DONATING to CER now to help us accelerate the pace of education reform in our country. Click here to give.  You can help us raise $5,000 by MIDNIGHT tonight to support CER and our work to advance education reform – thank you!