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NEWSWIRE: October 14, 2014

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Vol. 16, No. 40

BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL. Every morning, New Orleans native and local pastor Oscar Brown greets students at Homer A. Plessy Community Charter School. Boasting an art-centered curriculum that brings out students’ creativity, Plessy is a neighborhood school in the truest sense. Prior to opening, parents and community members all pitched in with painting, upkeep, and any other tasks needed to ensure a safe, adequate facility for students, and parents have had ample input in how their kids are learning in the classroom. The facility undertaking provides some tangibility to the financial and operational challenges charters face reflected in CER’s Survey of America’s Charter Schools. Now in its second year, Plessy’s diverse student body and creative approach are emblematic not only of New Orleans’ rich culture, but also the resolve to unite neighborhoods through improving education.

THERE’S NEED FOR THE OSP. Refuting the suggestion from a recent federal report that there is dwindling demand for the wildly successful DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP), the American Federation for Children rightfully set the record straight. A staggering 97.2 percent of participating students are African-American and Hispanic, and more schools are accepting DCOSP scholarships since the 2011 passage of the Scholarships and Opportunity for Results (SOAR) Act, which reauthorized the DCOSP. Expanding student eligibility would bolster the DCOSP’s effectiveness, a program currently earning a “B” grade according to the 2014 Voucher Laws Across the States Ranking & Scorecard. At the end of the day, something about less demand for school choice in a city with underserved students in one of the most vibrant charter sectors in the nation just doesn’t pass the smell test.

SETTLING THIS ONCE AND FOR ALL. Perhaps a little more frustrating than the Carolina Panthers tie with the Bengals this past Sunday is the fact that North Carolina families still must face uncertainty due to a legal challenge against the state’s new Opportunity Scholarship Program now helping approximately 2,000 kids receive a better education. That said, the State Supreme Court has now decided to hear the case, expediting the legal process and potentially giving parents more security knowing they’ll have this life-saving educational option available for their kids. Fourteen voucher programs exist in other states; it’s time North Carolina gets fully on board with true implementation.

AP PROGRESS. There are some positive takeaways from the numbers surrounding Advanced Placement (AP) exams released by The College Board. For one, more kids from all backgrounds are taking AP courses, up 3.8 percent from last year, meaning there are more students who are consciously deciding to lift internal expectations and make the month of May that much more stressful. Approximately 57 percent of kids who took AP exams received a three or higher, a score usually considered as passing by most colleges and universities. AP exams offer many key benefits, such as obtaining college credit while in high school, which increases college preparedness as well as chances of graduating on time. The uptick in students taking these types of courses is a promising sign that families are demanding more out of education, and want learning environments and options to help make that happen.

ARE YOU VOTING THIS NOVEMBER?… For the candidate that will put student results first? Do your research before heading to the polls by checking out Education50, CER’s newly updated resource delivering hard-hitting analysis on candidates in each of the 36 gubernatorial elections. Want to spot the real education reform-minded candidate in other races too? This toolkit on how to spot the real reformer has everything you need to know.

CER IS 21! On October 13, 1993, The Center for Education Reform was officially incorporated to unite varied coalitions under the banner of school choice and accountability. Twenty one years later, we continue that important work to create the conditions for more educational choices in communities nationwide.

AS CER ENTERS ITS THIRD DECADE, the Board of Directors welcomed David Hardy, CEO of Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School and nationally recognized authority on school reform, and elected new leaders with Frank Bonsal III, EdTech investor and Director of Entrepreneurship at Towson University, as Chairman.