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Newswire: May 5, 2015

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Vol. 17, No. 18

Lots to celebrate this week with National Charter Schools Week and Teacher Appreciation Week! THANK YOU to schools and educators working hard for our kids!

#THANKATEACHER. It is no secret teachers are the “gold stars” in a child’s education. Every single one of us can think back to a teacher that’s had a positive impact on our lives. The Association of American Educators (AAE) wants to recognize life-changing teachers and share your stories. Click here to submit your story to AAE, and be sure to check out The Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) for more great ideas on ways to recognize and thank teachers this week!

#CHARTERSCHOOLSWEEK. We’re also celebrating another important component of American education this week – public charter schools. In addition to creating a pledge in support of charter schools to share on social media this week, we’ll be shining a spotlight on positive outcomes our nation’s charter schools are achieving for our children, highlighting a different charter school story daily. From charter schools like Granada Hills (which started out as a traditional public school and was converted to a charter) that have network news affiliates dubbing them an “academic dynasty,” to charter schools like Challenge that are paving the way to ensure our children can engage in our democratic society, each school improves outcomes for students in their own unique way. A 4th grader at Challenge Charter School sums up the hallmark of charter schools best when talking about his school’s civic engagement award, saying it’s “freedom that allows us to have the kind of school we have today.”

BIGGER ROLE. While it’s true there are nearly 3 million students in nearly 7,000 charter schools across 43 states and the District of Columbia, charter schools could and should be playing a much larger role in U.S. education. With the average charter school waitlist growing to almost 300 students, demand continues to blow supply out of the water. Unfortunately, lack of progress to improve policy environments so charter schools can thrive can be blamed on lack of political will leading up to elections. It’s no surprise that two-thirds of Americans – or 69 percent – rate their state lawmakers’ track record on education “fair” or “poor.” The biggest culprit however, is a lack of information, or perhaps a growing body of misinformation, as to what constitutes strong, responsible charter school policy. Which is why…

SURVEY SAYS. …CER is encouraging all charter schools to tell their story via survey. These survey results are analyzed and published as CER’s Survey of America’s Charter Schools, a vital publication that since 1996 has helped fight misinformation about charter schools. Not only do media rely on this survey for information on the charter school environment in the U.S., but survey results help inform of schools’ day-to-day operational struggles and triumphs in order to shed light on policy changes needed in state houses across the country to ensure a robust charter sector. Click here to take the survey, or contact CER at 800-521-2118 or survey@edreform.com if you would prefer a hard copy.

PARENTS DENIED. While this week celebrates schools and teachers that give our kids the best opportunities possible, there are still places in our nation where charter schools don’t have the chance to be a viable option for kids. Take Spartansburg, PA, for example. Upon hearing the local elementary school was closing, parents took matters into their own hands and submitted a charter school application so that their kids would still have a local option. Sadly, the district has twice denied the application, citing the typical concern that the school is not innovative or different enough from what the district already provides. The beauty of charter schools, aside from their autonomy, is the fact that parents have a choice. Charter schools mean parents can choose the best education for their child, regardless of their zip code. Our system and the adults in it shouldn’t stand in the way of allowing parents and kids these opportunities. Sign the charter schools pledge if you agree!

TWEET UP. Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 6 from 1:00-2:00pm EST, don’t miss the #CharterSchoolWeek tweet up! Tweet your own message or fact about charter schools, or click here for a prepared tweet to join the conversation and get charter schools trending on social media. Not on social media or busy tomorrow? Check out this toolkit from The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools for other ways to get involved.