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NEWSWIRE: January 7, 2014

Vol. 16, No. 1

MULTIPLE AUTHORIZERS ARE GAME CHANGERS. As with any major legislative initiative, there has been a lot of debate surrounding charter school legislation currently in the Pennsylvania State Senate, particularly the question of creating university authorizers. If done properly, Pennsylvania school districts could expect the same type of quality charter schools that are held accountable by authorizers such as Central Michigan University, the State University of New York, and Ball State in Indiana. But these universities would not have been able to put their knowledgeable staff and expansive resources to good use without the proper amount of autonomy and independence to do what they do best: oversee exceptional schools. Even with the best intentions, well-meaning reform only works best for kids when it’s rooted in proven policy.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN. During the summer of 2013, the North Carolina legislature was in a similar situation to the current one in Pennsylvania, when it could have incentivized university authorizers, but balked at the opportunity and instead opted for a quasi-independent board. Over the next two weeks, the State Board of Education will decide the fate of close to 100 charter school applications, 26 of which are eligible for final approval to open this fall. The introduction of many of these schools will no doubt serve as a breath of fresh air to parents in search of other options within their districts. But now that newly implemented Opportunity Scholarship program and teacher reforms are under attack in the courts, it’s become more critical than ever to protect the progress made in 2013, and to make the necessary improvements in the future.

EDUCATION IN 2014. In an education proposal this week, Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina is expected to focus on increased technology in classrooms, teacher support, and emphasis on developing reading skills. It remains to be seen whether the proposal will also include much-needed reforms specific to the Palmetto State such as more choice programs, or equitable funding for charter schools. Like many other state governors this year, Haley is up for re-election this November. Because of the mounting frustration with state policies and increased desire for accountability in schools, it’s likely that education will come to the forefront of many gubernatorial elections nationwide. If South Carolina is any indicator, expect to see reform-oriented education proposals from candidates come out in droves in the coming weeks and months.

BREAK OUT THE YELLOW SCARVES. National School Choice Week is almost here, that special time of year when parents, students, school leaders and community members come together to highlight the positive effects of having power and educational options. From January 26 through February 1, there will be over 5,500 events nationwide, meaning there will be ample opportunities for both celebrating progress states and cities have made in delivering higher quality choices, and voicing desire from parents who still don’t have enough of a say over their child’s education. Click here to learn more, and be sure to follow CER and National School Choice Week on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates, along with a sizeable share of yellow scarf action pics.

THANK YOU for your support in our year-end push to #DeliverthePromise by accelerating the pace of education reform in the U.S. As we head into 2014, we are especially grateful for all of you who have supported and continue to support the Center financially. Our impact and influence would not be possible without you, and we’re grateful for your dedication to ensuring all children have access to the quality education they deserve.