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NEWSWIRE: June 3, 2014

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Vol. 16, No. 22

For many schools across the country, the academic year is sadly coming to a close. But for many, this means the start of a new and exciting life chapter. Newswire congratulates all of the 2014 graduates, whether in charter, traditional public, or other educational settings, and hope many more students receive the opportunity to be in the educational environment that best fits their needs come Fall 2014.

TOP 100.  At Boys’ Latin in West Philadelphia, the charter’s fourth-ever graduating class, continues the trend of getting graduates accepted to top 100 colleges in the country. The self-described college preparatory school has consistently delivered on the mission of providing a quality alternative for young men in need of a more rigorous environment and high academic expectations. Between funding and oversight issues impeding the growth of more and better opportunities, Philadelphia schools are needless to say in turbulent times, but possibly in the near future, policies will be in place to encourage more options like Boys’ Latin.

PARENT POWER IN BIG EASY ATTRACTS BIG STAR. There are many familiar motions characteristic of every graduation ceremony, but it’s pretty unique to have actress Sandra Bullock unexpectedly show up. The star of “While You Were Sleeping” and rom-com pioneer surprised the graduates of Warren Easton Charter High School in Louisiana, and imparted a few pearls of wisdom, such as avoiding one-arm hugs, as well as the importance of eating healthily and basic hygiene. But that’s not the only aspect that separates Warren Easton from other schools. Not only do students score highly on state assessments, Warren Easton, like many other charters, acknowledges the longstanding benefits of parental involvement, creating a homework portal to access coursework along with a plethora of other helpful resources. In a bold embrace of innovation, New Orleans will become the first American city to be completely comprised of charter schools, undoubtedly paving the way for quality education and increased Parent Power.

BRAVING THE COLD PAYS OFF… FOR NOW. On March 4, 2014, the city of Albany, NY was experiencing single-digit temperatures, a fairly common occurrence in upstate New York during winter. But the cold temps didn’t stop the over 11,100 parents and students from New York’s Success Academies from coming out with hats and gloves to push back against plans to displace the schools they love. A new video, part of the “Alise vs. the Mayor” series chronicling the New York City charter sector, captures the organic energy and passion shown by the thousands fighting for their right to a quality education. Since that fateful day in Albany, some of the dust has settled over finding facilities so kids can continue to learn with as little disruption as possible. But without long-term, state-level protections that ensure equitable funding and resources for all schools statewide, issues will remain and inequity will persist, and it will only be a matter of time until another swath of parents and students will have to brave the elements to carry on the same fight.

AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING. The latest in the PA charter school drama we’ve been keeping Newswire readers in the loop about is that a court ruling sided with Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission, claiming the SRC acted properly within its power to cap enrollment of Walter D. Palmer Leadership Academy. Even Pennsylvania’s highest court has validated the destructive perception that the SRC holds inexorable power over charter schools, despite all of this being in stark contrast to state law. Charter schools will get a chance to restore order in September, however, with the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments as to whether the SRC truly has power to set caps and suspend charters. Hundreds of Walter Palmer families, many of whom come from the poorest areas of Philadelphia, made their voices heard at a rally last week to preserve what some have called a “godsend,” while other charters will likely do the same in the coming months. Meanwhile, Walter Palmer Charter’s obligation is first and foremost to the over 1,200 students it serves, and consequently plans to open this September as scheduled, with an intact student population.

PARENTS GET RESULTS. On May 23, the Superintendent of the entire Los Angeles public school system made a special trip to West Athens Elementary School in the southern part of the city to sign a historic agreement. In an amazing and collaborative agreement with West Athens parents, the District has agreed to invest $300,000 in new staffing positions and professional development measures to make critical improvements to school safety and climate. With only 30 percent of West Athens students reading at grade level, parents thought it was time for a change. After organization and constructive dialogue with administrators, all parties involved were able to reach a final agreement without resorting to the formal parent trigger option available in California. Perhaps it’s because this law is in place that officials are taking parents requests more seriously than before!?… It’s incredibly encouraging to see mutual understanding when school conditions need to be improved, and when parent trigger laws like the one in California play a productive role in getting parents a seat at the table.

THE 24th ANNUAL EDVentures Conference will be held from July 16-18, part of which will be the EdTech Fair, highlighting the latest innovations from tech startups in southern California. Click here to learn more.

DON’T MISS OUT on Club Ed, to be held on June 13 where some of education reform’s most prominent leaders will discuss how to create positive change in the classroom. Space is limited, so register today!