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NEWSWIRE: January 6, 2015

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Vol. 17, No. 1

CLEARED FOR CONVERSION. The York City School District in Pennsylvania is one step closer to a charter conversion plan, aiming to boost financial solvency, and more importantly, student achievement. A judge granted control of York City schools to a state-appointed recovery officer who is in favor of converting district schools to charters, seeing as internal changes have failed to materialize. Naturally, the district has appealed the court’s decision in a last-ditch effort to block a charter operator with a proven track record of building high-performing community schools. In a district failing to meet academic benchmarks and the union showing no signs of negotiation, change is necessary, even if that means a few growing pains along the way.

TWIN CITIES TRIUMPH. St. Paul, MN student Abdirahman, the oldest of ten children, comes from a family where no one has attended college (yet). But thanks to a dual credit program utilized by approximately 1,000 Twin Cities high schoolers in both charter and traditional public schools, he now has 30 college credits under his belt. Abdirahman now feels empowered in his education, and feels he can handle whatever might come after receiving a high school diploma. Studies on dual credit programs show low-income students are demonstrating just as much college readiness as students from affluent backgrounds. It seems fitting that the state with the first charter law – and one of the strongest – is leading the way in this type of charter-traditional partnership. Not only does the dual credit program show it’s possible to collaborate between charter and traditional systems, but there are innovations in the here and now that are closing the achievement gap.

QUALITY COUNTS, BUT SO DOES PARENT POWER. This week, Education Week will release its annual “Quality Counts,” report with a focus on early education. Of course, state government officials will likely make a beeline for the state ranking section to check for any positive takeaways on how students are faring. However, whereas “Quality Counts” examines a number of factors such as standards and funding, the Parent Power Index is more interested in actions taken at the state level that provide that one-two punch of choice and accountability for parents. It’s important elected officials truly take stock of where things currently stand, but also know that there’s a lot more work to do in giving families the opportunities they both demand and deserve.

20 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE. In eight counties across Western New York, the BISON Children’s Scholarship Fund has provided aid to over 24,000 low-income students since its founding in 1995. This year, BISON will have awarded over 2,000 scholarships, fulfilling a much-needed service in a state ranked 18th in Parent Power. Twenty years ago, the three founders of BISON ascertained that families wanted another choice for their children’s elementary school other than underperforming public schools and mused that their first goal was to go out of business, since they shouldn’t be needed. BISON’s prime metric of success is how children perform in high school: Ninety five percent of BISON scholars graduate high school, and roughly sixty percent graduate from a private institution. Click here to learn more about how BISON is empowering parents and lifting outcomes for young scholars.

EDREFORMU. Make History, Don’t Repeat It. That’s the goal of EdReformU, a full online, mobile course of study designed to provide the next generation of reformers access to the nation’s leading authorities and pioneers in education reform. This is the first pilot course of many designed to ensure the next generation is even better than the first at creating positive change for an ailing system. Apply today, enrollment is limited. Click here to learn more.