Home » Newswire Weekly » NEWSWIRE: March 25, 2014

NEWSWIRE: March 25, 2014

Share This Story

Vol. 16, No. 12

MARCH MADNESS IN YORK, PA. For many across the country, March Madness is viewed as a time full of Cinderella-storied basketball teams that overcome all odds, along with shining moments that shock and inspire. These sentiments are also present in the ongoing struggle of New Hope Academy in York, PA, where a shocking moment took place at a school board meeting. In deplorable fashion, the York County School Board felt it necessary to silence New Hope charter school supporters, even going as far as sending a police escort for New Hope’s performing arts director, who only wanted to call for increased dialogue and inclusiveness. Students were also silenced, because in the Board’s view, school officials are only accountable to the “taxpayer,” a startling mindset to have when student accountability should take priority above all else. This hostility is real, and the longer states like Pennsylvania hold off on fixing their law to embrace proven best practices like multiple and independent authorizers, this hostility will be here to stay.

MASKING MARYLAND CHOICE. Maryland has always been one of those states that receives heaps of praise in the education realm. However, as CER has pointed out in the past – here and here – and as a recent editorial reinforces, the praise prevents many from seeing how shortsighted Maryland actually is when it comes to meeting the growing demand for Parent Power. After noticing the dramatically low number of alternative education options statewide, it’s not difficult to see why some are calling Maryland’s charter law a law “in name only.” This is why it’s so critical lawmakers break through the hype and create the policy environment Maryland families deserve.

TENNESSEE ADVANCING, & NOT JUST IN NCAA TOURNEY. Last week, we were on the ground in Nashville to ensure the Tennessee Senate take a positive step by approving a bill permitting the State Board of Education to become a charter school sponsor after appeal.  But it’s not over yet, as the bill now goes to concur with its House counterpart, where legislators must remain vigilant in making sure this is not another exercise in legislative futility, an unfortunate characteristic of the Volunteer State. If this current effort results in passage and legislators can also commit to encouraging public-private partnerships as another means to improve schools statewide, Tennessee legislators will be on a path towards creating conditions in which charters and students can truly thrive.

SCORE ONE FOR ARIZONA PARENTS. Arizona parents who benefit from having more control over their child’s education obtained a key victory last week when the Arizona Supreme Court declined to weigh in on the legality of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), thereby upholding their constitutionality. The popular program is designed to give flexibility to underserved student populations who because of special needs or external circumstances, may not be equipped with everything they need to excel in a traditional setting. This ruling, combined with charter advocate Greg Miller’s re-nomination to the State Board of Education, will go a long way to meet the demand for more options, and proliferate choice and accountability-based initiatives such as ESAs to boost outcomes for students of all backgrounds.

A DECISION OF MASS PROPORTIONS. Today is the deadline for lifting the cap on the number of charter schools permitted in Massachusetts, and it’s still uncertain whether legislators will listen to the over 4,000 parents and students who have submitted letters attesting their support for schools that have given them incredible opportunities they would not have had otherwise. If letters don’t sway legislators, perhaps they’d be swayed by wait lists, where in Massachusetts there are over 13,600 applications for 2,200 charter spots, well above the national averageof 300. As much of the country remains gripped by March Madness, a lifting of the charter cap in Massachusetts could position the Bay State to become a rank-jumping sleeper pick in next year’s Charter School Laws Across The States: Rankings & Scorecard.

DO YOU KNOW OUR NEXT INTERN? The hunt for the next dream team of CER summer interns begins now! CER is looking for interns who want to gain knowledge about education policy and translate these ideas into action to create better opportunities in education. And don’t worry, we take interns from all schools, even schools that didn’t make it to the March Madness Big Dance this year. Click here to learn more and apply!