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NEWSWIRE: May 28, 2014

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Vol. 16, No. 21

$10 MILLION TO NOWHERE. The National Education Association (NEA) will be redirecting $10 million in union dues alone for political purposes in the 2014 election cycle, in hopes that the widening consensus on the benefits of choice and accountability won’t prevail this November. Help CER spread the word to set the record straight in the face of this political onslaught, so Americans can spot the real reformers in their community.

OH, THE DEPTHS THEY WILL GO. A union proxy organization in Philadelphia is running TV ads describing charter schools as ‘private,’ when charter schools are in fact (as Newswire readers know) publicly funded, publicly administered and publicly held accountable. The PA-based group is called, ‘Friends of Public Ed,’ a friendly, newspeak description for Enemies of Reform. The mislabeling of charter schools as non-public options irresponsibly suggests that public charter students shouldn’t receive equitable funding and resources, when they are already underfunded as it is. Parents and community members must realize the inexorable depths at which union bosses will go to advance a political agenda, whether it means exploiting a local school tragedy or misidentifying the role of charter schools in public education. Parents in Pennsylvania have the power to correct these attacks, and must speak out to preserve positive changes and opportunities for their kids.

IN CASE THERE WAS ANY CONFUSION about union unwillingness to adopt best practices regardless of the delivery method, UFT Chief Michael Mulgrew made that position unequivocally clear when saying, ”We are at war with the reformers,” first reported by Chalkbeat and highlighted in a video that chronicles the ongoing friction in New York education. It would be much more helpful to vilify low proficiency rates and expectations combined with static learning environments, and to highlight success stories, but of course hack political statements are never intended to come across as ‘helpful.’ At the end of the day, parental access to a full range of choices and data is what enables students the best chance at finding their educational fit, and that’s what should really matter.

LEGACY BUILDING. As the school year comes to a close, high schools nationwide break out the pomp and circumstance to commemorate yet another graduating class. But for some like Legacy Charter in South Carolina, the Class of 2014 will be the school’s first, and graduating seniors will receive their diplomas from a charter described as an “Early College” high school, where approximately 1 in 5 students are enrolled in college courses. This is due in large part to the school’s innovative partnership with a local technical college, enabling students to obtain college credit while in high school. When not in Legacy’s classrooms, students participate in athletics and are also expected to give back to the community through fulfillment of a service requirement. Congratulations to Legacy’s Class of 2014, and all graduates as they apply what they’ve learned to life’s next great adventure.

SWEET HOME FOR SCHOOL CHOICE? A circuit judge just ruled the Alabama Accountability Act unconstitutional on a number of counts, mostly procedural in nature. This is the third lawsuit against the program, and unfortunately the first to actually gain any sort of traction. Proponents have vowed to appeal and are confident that the program will prevail. In the meantime, the ruling represents a devastating blow to the parents who wish to exercise their fundamental right to place their child in the school right for them. Since going into effect last year, the Accountability Act’s popularity has been such that the cap on tax credit disbursements was fast approaching by the end of last year. As a result, more income-eligible students were able to escape failing systems and attend schools where they now love to learn and can excel. Evidenced by other states, school choice programs are possible to implement and can be entirely valid, but it remains to be seen whether Alabama can get on board.

REALITY CHECK-IN. New commentary from CER senior fellow and president emeritus Jeanne Allen weighs in on the ed reform movement today. Read more here.

CLUB ED hosted by Choice Illinois is right around the corner, where participants will get the chance to hear from an impressive list of panelists on what happens when educators are free to innovate. Click here to learn more and RSVP. Space is limited, so register today!