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NEWSWIRE: February 10, 2015

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Vol. 17, No. 6

MARKETING CHOICE. Yesterday, CER participated in a daylong forum on #ChoosingExcellence hosted by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), the American Federation for Children, and the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. The event provided a wealth of information from a vast array of advocates and lawmakers growing parent choice. The final panel, “Marketing Excellence,” moderated by CER president Kara Kerwin, looked at best practices in reaching parents, and low-income families in particular, when it comes to school choice opportunities made possible by state policy. One state that does this well is Florida, as evidenced by the success of their tax credit scholarship program. Click here to get the entire scoop on what it takes to market excellence. And for more information on action ideas and advocacy tools to support Parent Power, visit the “Take Action” page at edreform.com.

MEETING PARENT DEMAND. Across the country, the charter school application season has begun, when millions of families wait nervously to hear whether students have gained admission to a new opportunity through a random lottery process. In op-eds and blog posts, school choice advocates are making the case against “perverse incentives” which risk limiting student access. Rather than fill every available seat to truly meet parental demand, some school enrollment policies have become constricted in response to these incentives, thus limiting the chance for MORE children to take advantage of a new learning environment. State law must make school choice available, but it’s equally critical that school leaders are doing their part to meet the demand for education options.

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF PARENT POWER. The positive outcomes of school choice are once again on full display in Arizona. Last week, third grader Elayna Trinder of Challenge Charter School received the thrill of a lifetime when reporting the weather forecast on Good Morning America. Thanks to Challenge Charter’s hands-on science curriculum and a “WeatherBug” weather station on campus, students are able to make the most of their interest in science, and in Elayna’s case, meteorology. With Challenge Charter President Greg Miller now at the helm of the State Board of Education, and a pro-reform rated governor, Arizona’s Parent Power forecast looks full of blue skies and sunshine.

UNION’S AIRING OF GRIEVANCES. The United Federation of Teachers is engaged in a grassroots campaign – well, as grassroots as a top-down teacher union public relations campaign can possibly be – against New York Gov. Cuomo’s budget proposals on charter schools and teacher evaluations. The campaign might be new, but it represents the same old opposition to policies that increase choice and accountability. At yesterday’s #ChoosingExcellence summit on the Hill, Kevin Chavous, general counsel for the American Federation for Children and CER Board Member, said that when considering policy change, the very first question that should be asked is whether the policy is going to help kids. And it looks like more people are coming to grips with what that mindset truly means, especially when thinking about their own children, just as a former North Carolina union lobbyist who now supports school choice did after he exercised school choice himself, realizing an alternative was best for his daughter’s learning needs.

ICYMI. Speaking of unions, appearing on STOSSEL last Friday, Jeanne Allen, senior fellow and president emeritus of CER, debated the role of unions in charter school efforts. The debate is timely given findings that most teachers want the very kind of flexibility and autonomy that charter schools afford. A new membership survey from the Association of American Educators reveals 97 percent of its members support charter schools and 64 percent would prefer to negotiate their own employment. It’s clear that educators – among others – are increasingly favoring a system that not only bolsters choice but also treats teachers as the professionals they truly are.