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NEWSWIRE: December 2, 2014

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Vol. 16, No. 47

#GIVINGTUESDAY is finally here. Although you probably know that from the flood of emails in your inbox today. We can’t help but take part in #GivingTuesday because we think giving parents fundamental power over their child’s education is the most important work on earth. With your help, The Center for Education Reform will continue to lead the fight on ensuring more education options in more communities for more families. Make your contribution here so parents and lawmakers are in the know about what it takes to expand new learning opportunities to students regardless of zip code or background. Thank you for your support!

THE BUTCHER, THE BAKER, THE ED REFORM MAKER. Not one month after Charlie Baker is elected governor of Massachusetts, and he’s starting to receive calls to improve education, particularly for underserved Bay State students. Good thing too, seeing as a state 30th in Parent Power provides limited school choice, with the state’s first virtual school authorized just last year. Baker has vowed to eliminate the cap on number of charter schools allowed, and says, “school choice… should not be a partisan issue.” No it shouldn’t, and nationally parent choice is actually a tri-partisan issue. Efforts last year to lift the charter school cap came up short in Massachusetts, but bold leadership from the state executive could be the difference maker.

CHOICE DOES NOT END WITH STUDENTS. When charter schools establish themselves in communities, they present a new option not only to students, but also to teachers who want to help incoming classes. Chicago first grade educator Erin Fergus explains why she chose a charter, and how it was a conscious decision because of a shared belief in the mission to close the achievement gap in the Windy City. It’s sometimes forgotten that environments that provide autonomy are empowering not only to students who can now learn in new ways, but also to teachers who can innovate and cater to student needs. And just like the families and students who chose a charter learning environment, teachers want to be there and the results speak for themselves.

IDAHO PLUGS IN. In terms of creating the conditions necessary for choice and innovation in recent years, everything has been coming up Idaho. As many as 35 Idaho districts contain teachers who are implementing blended learning in the classroom, helping 3,000 students use technology in a way that helps mastery of content as opposed to what CER’s toolkit cautions against: using computers for computers’ sake. With the guidance of Idaho’s statewide Digital Learning Academy, tried and tested learning models are being used that allow for instant feedback and personalized instruction in the event a student requires more follow up beyond the online lesson plan. What’s more, blended learning in Idaho is a way for principals to use teaching personnel more efficiently so kids are still getting the help they need. It’s these types of commonsense solutions that should have Idaho climbing the Parent Power ladder for years to come.   

THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS. It’s refreshing to hear educators call for an end to arguing over ‘charter’ vs. ‘traditional,’ in favor of learning what works from both models and applying it to classrooms. In St. Paul, Minnesota, public educators are doing just that. Higher Ground Academy (HGA) is a K-12 public charter school that serves a 95 percent low-income student body with the highest percentage of low-income students of any school statewide to be proficient in math and reading. Now, HGA collaborates with several other inner-city schools to exchange best practices, and increase the number of students taking college credit courses. Without a doubt, a ripple effect is always going to be more positive than a single splash.

CALLING ALL FEDERAL WORKERS. Those who work for the federal government are able to get into the spirit of #GivingTuesday in their own special way to help lift student outcomes via the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), through which The Center for Education Reform has been awarded a “Best in America” seal, given to only two percent of charities nationwide. Click here to learn more. The deadline to give via the CFC campaign is December 15th!