Home » Newswire Weekly » NEWSWIRE: April 1, 2014

NEWSWIRE: April 1, 2014

Vol. 16, No. 13

NY APRIL FOOLS BUDGET? New York’s budget passed late Monday night, and it’s being billed as a “bold course” of action for charter schools. April fools? If only. The sad reality is that this budget is nowhere near bold because it neglects more than half of the state’s charter schools! Apparently many lawmakers who honed in on scoring political points in New York City’s charter school debate have never made the seven hour drive from Long Island to Buffalo, otherwise they’d know there’s a lot more to New York than just the Big Apple. Last night’s budget provides facility funding support only to new and growing NYC charters, allotting nothing additional for charters outside the City. Further, the maintenance of a charter per-pupil spending freeze while other school spending goes up represents yet another disparity for charter students statewide. Perhaps it’s a novel concept, but state policies are supposed to be state-based, and a student attending a traditional or charter school in Rochester should be treated the same as a student in Brooklyn.

TENNESSEE’S MULTIPLE FRONTS. Lawmakers might be upset that the Vols got knocked out of the NCAA tournament, but that’s no reason to carry the disappointment over into the legislative arena. In another moment of legislative disappointment, the Tennessee House pushed back a vote on allowing the State Board of Education to oversee and monitor charter schools in the event capable schools face local hostility and appeal. Although this was a temporary setback in the push to expand quality options for Tennessee students, today legislation passed the House education committee that would allow public-private partnerships within the state charter sector, vastly improving the potential for quality schools to gain a foothold in the Volunteer State. These efforts cobbled together represent a concerted move towards the ultimate goal of creating numerous quality learning opportunities for children.

FIGHTING ILLINI. To say deep-pocketed unions and special interests have launched a full-frontal attack on Illinois charter schools would be an understatement. Multiple pieces of legislation are now gaining traction in Springfield, that aside from inhibiting choices for underserved students, weaken the already lousy charter policy environment in Illinois, indicated by its charter law grade of ‘D’ and low Parent Power standing. In addition to bills that would severely limit autonomy on how charter schools spend their funds, there are a litany of other proposals aimed at limiting the charter appeals process and subjecting charters to burdensome standards to which they’re already accountable due to existing legislation. Join thousands of others and make your voice heard to urge lawmakers to fight for charter school equity and survival.

MAINTAINING TRUE CHOICE. Robert Cane of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS), delivered a powerful warning of the potential derailment of the charter school engine driving education reform in the District of Columbia. Playing a prominent role in the DC charter landscape, Cane has learned that with all of the charter school successes embodied by student achievement, efforts to inhibit growth have always persisted. Whether it’s burdensome regulation and paperwork, or attempts to control charter school curricula or work rules, there have been and always will be threats to charter school autonomy, which is what allows educators to innovate and do what they do best. Recently, some 17,000 DC families enrolled in the District’s lottery in search of the best possible education for their young students. For these families and many others in need of better opportunities, it’s critical to stand firmly against efforts to co-opt the charter school movement.

DO YOU KNOW quality teachers in non-traditional schools whose passion and dedication to educating makes a difference on a regular basis? Who are we kidding, of course you do! Visit publicschooloptions.org to nominate that outstanding educator for the 5th Annual American Pioneer of Teaching Award, and the lucky winner will be announced May 6th. Go to PublicSchoolOptions.org for more information.