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NEWSWIRE: January 14, 2014

Vol. 16, No. 2

PEAK PERFORMANCE. In a brief video testimonial, 16 year-old Savannah, a low-income student who is a full grade ahead and obtaining college credit, sums up her experience attending Pikes Peak Prep charter school in Colorado. With expenses such as books and transportation costs taken care of, students like Savannah can focus on education and pursue their dreams. Savannah’s dream is to attend college, where she will study to become a neuroscientist. This is a testament to the CO charter school staying true to its claim that at Pikes Peak Prep, “all roads lead to college — and beyond.” Hopefully with increased public support, lawmakers recognize the need to foster similar opportunities so underserved students can pursue goals of their own.

UNWANTED RIPPLE EFFECT. Some officials in leading Parent Power state Indiana are becoming wary of the amount of charter school authorizers, and the way in which authorizers…well, authorize. For a state that is home to authorizing superstars like Ball State – responsible for overseeing nearly half the charter schools statewide – Hoosier policymakers should know that properly instituting university authorizers increases school accountability and renders the number of authorizers a moot point. What’s problematic is when the same conversations shift to other states (i.e. Pennsylvania) where misplaced dialogue translates into misguided attempts at reform. Keystone State lawmakers would do well to tune out certain conversations, and instead listen from places such as Central Michigan University, the SUNY network in New York, and the number of other university authorizers that consistently oversee quality schools.

DESIRED RIPPLE EFFECT. One indicator that DC has above-average parent power and a robust charter school environment is the fact that there needed to be a city-wide convention so parents and students could properly survey all of the options afforded to them. Representatives of public charter schools in addition to traditional schools were on hand to show parents the potential benefits of their unique brand of education, a nod to the increased collaborative nature of the DC system. Whereas traditional schools have not traditionally participated in the convention, there is now a heightened awareness of the charter school ripple effect now perceived as lifting all boats and improving the district as a whole.

NO EFFECT AT ALL. The state of Maryland ranks 38th  in taking substantive action to improve educational conditions for all students. It’s previously been touted as number one, but the reality is that it’s in the bottom 12 in creating an environment where quality educational options can thrive. It is unproductive to tout a single testing statistic or reform as all the proof needed to assess a state’s educational progress, especially when those numbers are conflated to begin with. What’s worse, state lawmakers become less motivated to enact policies rooted in choice, accountability and data transparency aimed at empowering parents and students. State evaluation methods vary widely, but policymakers benefit most when given the equivalent of a cumulative GPA that gives the full picture, rather than focusing on singular metrics.  

ALL ABOARD the National School Choice Week Whistle-Stop tour, coming soon to a city near you. The tour will begin in Newark on January 22 and make stops in Philadelphia, the District of Columbia, Charlotte, Columbia, Augusta, Birmingham, Jackson, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Tucson, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Not stopping in a city near you?  You don’t have to miss out on the biggest celebration of educational opportunity in history – you can host your very own National School Choice Week event in your own school or town! Get the supplies you’ll need here for free with the code CER2014!