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NEWSWIRE: May 20, 2014

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Vol. 16, No. 20

60 YEARS AGO, the Warren Court in Brown v. Board of Education unanimously struck down the inherently unequal system of segregated schools by race. The Brown decision reversed a societal ill, demanding schools integrate with “all deliberate speed,” with the end promise being equality of opportunity for all students to pursue a quality education. Sadly, 60 years later, that equality-of-opportunity promise remains unfulfilled for far too many students, mostly because of the slow pace at which states are willing to embrace reforms that lift student outcomes. With the unacceptably low percentages of kids proficient in math and reading, “all deliberate speed,” must take on new meaning to motivate lawmakers in the here and now to create power and choice for parents, transcending race, income and zip code.

WE WANT TO HEAR what educational freedom means to you on the anniversary of this monumental ruling. Share with us here.

ACCOUNTABILITY: IT’S IN THEIR DNA. The Department of Education issued guidance to charter schools reminding school leaders that federal law applies to both charter and traditional public schools. Saying that anti-discrimination laws are there to be followed is already enough of a tautology, but the exercise becomes even more exhaustive when directed specifically at charter schools. Due to accountability standards unique to the charter sector that determine whether charter schools stay open and are making good on their promise to deliver a higher caliber of education, charter leaders are acutely aware of the regulations with which they must comply. Of course no charter school is exempt from guaranteeing civil rights, and they in fact take great pains to honor the civil right of a quality education to parents and students, often serving more disadvantaged populations. The Department claims the guidance was a response to the growing number of charter schools in the U.S., reinforcing the ability of charter school leaders to remain accountable to both the law and the students they serve.

PHILLY PRIORITIES. The fight to stay open for Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School has taken an interesting turn. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court set the stage for oral arguments in a case this September that will have lasting implications on what kind of actions the Philly School Reform Commission (SRC) can take towards charter schools. Blatantly ignoring due process, the SRC took steps to remove WDP – LLPCS’ charter as the school has been working diligently to resolve financial issues while still providing a viable parental choice for 1,289 students. These proceedings underscore the importance of respecting law and working collaboratively with charter schools, which benefit the Philly educational landscape at large. Read the petition to learn more about WDP-LLPCS and help save a school that parents have called, “excellent” and a “godsend.”

AVOID FLEETING CHANGE IN NEWARK. Mayor meets Governor. Both meet Facebook founder. All three express desire to turn around the Newark school system. It’s a story full of high profiles and good intentions that has the potential of a happy ending, were it not for one critical missing element – structural policy changes. For instance, this feature goes into great detail about the roles of former Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Gov. Chris Christie and Mark Zuckerberg in introducing much-needed reforms to Newark schools, and the great pains taken at the municipal level to bring about change. And while it’s heartening to see such innovation take place, there must be support at the state level to make sure innovations are protected by law for years to come. In other words, the bold leadership in Newark must be backed by structural change in Trenton to create the necessary funding and safeguards for all schools and students to truly succeed. Otherwise, funding dries out and leaders move on, but kids are still going to need an education.

AT THE REVOLUTION. We’re on the ground at the American Federation for Children’s 5th Annual National Policy Summit. Follow CER pres @CERKaraKerwin for the latest @SchoolChoiceNow’s #EdRevolution.