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NEWSWIRE: March 4, 2014

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Vol. 16, No. 9

OPPORTUNITY SHORTCHANGED. Once again, President Obama’s FY15 budget has shortchanged money for the successful, popular, money-saving Opportunity Scholarship Program in Washington, D.C.  Sadly, this is not the first time D.C. vouchers have been zeroed-out of the budget, even though research validates the program’s effectiveness, despite President’s claims to the contrary. Very few government programs can claim a positive return on taxpayer investment, but the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program offers a 162 percent return on each taxpayer dollar invested in the program. Not only that, but the graduation rate for voucher students is 12 percentage points higher than those not using vouchers. It’s the leaders who ignore these facts and ignore the families who deserve and need this program that deserve a zero.

IN DEFENSE OF NYC CHARTER SCHOOLS. As of one week ago, it looked like hundreds of students were all ready to attend a quality school of their own choosing. This expectation was put in serious jeopardy when the New York City Department of Education reversed the co-location approval decision for three separate charter schools, representing an unacceptable denial of choices that families were rightfully afforded. This is the latest in a series of attacks on publicly supported charter schools that have demonstrated a clear ability to improve educational outcomes for New York City students. As city officials continue to take steps to reverse what seemed at one point the inexorable expansion of alternatives to traditional public schools, it’s critical parents make their voices heard to make sure kids still have access to schools that fit their needs. Take action now by signing the petition to tell city hall that charters work.

DISCREDITING GOOD TEACHERS. In an alarming course of action, teachers in Fairfax County, Virginia, are ‘working to the rule,’ due to a shared wariness that pay raises aren’t going to materialize. This means teachers will do the bare minimum of their job description, cutting out extracurricular activities, science fairs, and college recommendation writing. This unfortunate tactic will undoubtedly come at the expense of students, and undercuts the widespread satisfaction teachers feel about their job in addition to the desire of many to make a difference first and foremost. Treating teachers as a collective of rank-and-file personnel does a disservice to the honor and dignity of the teaching profession, and does little to reward good educators. Pay policies rooted in performance is one way to treat teachers with respect.

ROAD TO RECOVERY. It has been over a decade since the Louisiana government laid the groundwork for the Recovery School District, and if much-needed reform became imminent following the state takeover, it became inevitable in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In the face of much adversity, New Orleans schools – and by extension the city as a whole – embraced charter schools as an effective method of improving educational outcomes, and the Big Easy hasn’t looked back. High school graduation rates are climbing, and more students are eligible for college scholarships after they were able to chart their own destiny in the school they chose with their parents. Other urban areas are now watching the New Orleans experiment, and with the right laws and leadership, could replicate the types of opportunities seen in Louisiana.

MISGUIDED ATTACK ON FOR-PROFITS. In what seems to be a relentless attempt at banning certain charter school operators, there is now a ballot initiative in California aiming to shut out for-profit charter entities from the Golden State. Similar actions have been taken in recent weeks to vilify charter operators, despite having proven track records of managing quality schools and improving surrounding communities. Public-private partnerships tend to implement performance-based accountability measures to serve students to the best of their ability, and the private sides of these relationships often take the brunt of the financial risk associated with creating a new charter school. Ballot initiatives like these accomplish nothing but to inhibit the proliferation of more and better opportunities for students.

IDAHO ED SESSIONS. Today, Center for Education Reform founder Jeanne Allen asked Idahoans “What if Parents Reformed Education?” as the guest speaker and national thought leader on education reform at J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation’s Ed Sessions 2.0.  This event featured some of the brightest, most inspired voices from around the globe with a focus on education, training, and self-fulfillment. The goal? To collectively discover what’s needed to meet the extraordinary challenges of living and working in the 21st century. For more information visit Ed Sessions 2.0 and watch the video Live Chat on Wednesday by clicking here.

DON’T MISS a special viewing of “The Ticket: The Many Faces of School Choice” on Tuesday, March 18 at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. This documentary tours the country, highlighting different forms of how parents and students exercise the freedom of choosing the education that’s right for them. Click here to register.