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NEWSWIRE: July 22, 2014

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Vol. 16, No. 29

WHAT TO SAY WHEN SOMEONE SAYS CHARTER SCHOOLS DON’T PRODUCE RESULTS FOR KIDS…
They do, and they do it with less money. The old saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” goes a little differently in the charter school sector, reading something like, “When public entities hand you less taxpayer dollars than traditional public schools, make substantial learning gains for students anyway.” A new study from the University of Arkansas reveals charter schools use public dollars far more efficiently than traditional public schools. For every $1,000 invested, eighth grade charter students achieved on average an additional 17 points in math and 16 points in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The District of Columbia, known nationally as a charter hotbed (and coincidentally has a strong charter school law on the books…), blew other states out of the water with charter schools being 109 and 122 percent more cost effective with public resources in math and reading, respectively. The fact that charter schools get 36% less funding on average compared to traditional public schools is even more egregious now given this seminal research linking achievement and funding. Lawmakers need to take note and ensure equitable funding for all public school students.

REMEMBER THAT MISLEADING MEDIA SERIES IN MICHIGAN?…
Yep, that one in the Detroit Free Press on charter schools that couldn’t be more misleading if it tried. Well thankfully, people like Dan Quisenberry of Michigan Association of Public School Academies are still getting ink in setting the record straight on school accountability. Quisenberry points to the highest-performing elementary school in Lansing, Cole Academy, as an example of how charter schools are not only getting the job done, but they are doing so with MORE accountability and oversight than traditional public schools, thanks to high expectations set by authorizers. While there is always more work to be done, Michigan already has a lot of the necessary provisions in place that allow both charter and traditional schools to answer to the families they’re meant to serve.

IT’S OK FEA, YOU CAN DROP THE FALSE PRETENSE…
In typical knee-jerk fashion, the Florida Education Association (FEA) filed a lawsuit against legislation expanding Florida’s tax credit scholarship program and establishing personalized learning accounts for students with special needs. There are close to 60,000 K-12 Florida students currently taking advantage of tax credit scholarships, which is approximately three percent of the state’s 5-17 year-old school-aged population. So naturally, lawmakers sought to widen this opportunity to more families seeking out educational opportunities for their kids. Others, like an FEA attorney claiming the personal learning account component would be a “collateral casualty,” have an unfortunately remarkably callous attitude when discussing the futures of students with special needs. The FEA’s complaint is procedural in nature, even if it represents nothing more than an attempt to inhibit a diverse portfolio of learning options.

GREAT HEARTS SET SIGHTS ON TEXAS…
In hopes of emulating the success seen in Arizona, the highly reputable Great Hearts Academies is expanding into North Texas after a heartening vote of confidence from Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams. Already having one school set up in San Antonio, Great Hearts is headed to the northern portion of the state to hopefully open a school in Dallas by the 2015 school year. Like so many dedicated charter operators nationwide, Great Hearts has the primary mission of bettering educational opportunities for as many students as possible. With 95 percent of Great Hearts Arizona students going off to four-year colleges after graduation, and impressive passage rates on state testing, it’s no wonder the Lone Star State is rolling out the welcome wagon.

A NEW, INNOVATIVE WAY TO HELP KIDS MASTER SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING SKILLS…
Is what a new game called “IF…” does, and Mose and his Dad are here to tell you all about it. Mose is a highly functional eight and half year old with Asperger syndrome who plays the adventure game “IF…” to better understand and manage his emotions. Students and parents are empowered by obtaining these social and emotional skills, which leads to an increased understanding and valuing of themselves and others, helping them function in traditional learning settings. Watch the video here and see how this innovative adventure game is helping great kids like Mose.