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Newswire: June 2, 2015

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Vol. 17, No. 22

UNIVERSAL CHOICE. Late last week, the Nevada legislature sent a universal education savings account (ESA) bill to Governor Brian Sandoval’s desk. The bill would put Nevada parents of children currently enrolled in public school in charge of either 90 or 100 percent of the statewide per-pupil expenditures for their children, depending on the family’s income and the students’ disability status. If the governor enacts it, SB 302 will make Nevada the fifth state to have an ESA law on the books, and the only one to have a universal school choice program which will serve almost half a million students. Certainly an increase in Parent Power for Silver State parents, who live in a state that scores just 69 percent on The Center for Education Reform’s (CER) Parent Power Index. Sadly, Governor Bullock, whose state, Montana, ranks last in Parent Power, recently vetoed a much narrower ESA bill aimed at special needs students and their siblings. Montana did however (without the governor’s signature) enact a new tax credit program. Get the scoop from CER President Kara Kerwin as she discusses the vetoed ESA program and Montana’s new tax credit program on the Heartland Institute’s podcast.

ON THE RISE. If any doubt remained about the need for more students having more access to seats of choice, numbers out from The National Center for Education Statistics reveal parents don’t just need options, but demand them. According to the report, the number of charter school students has increased by hundreds of thousands in just one year. Taking a closer look at the figures echoes what CER’s Survey of America’s Charter Schools already tells us: charter schools do in fact serve minority students, and do so at a greater proportion compared to traditional public schools. Despite the growth in charter school enrollment, the growth of the supply of available seats is linear, and does not meet parental demand. An even more accelerated pace of growth would allow charter schools to play a more central role in education reform over the next few years.

CHARTER BIAS. Palm Beach County School District in Florida is filing a motion to prevent a charter school from opening, even after the State Board of Education ruled it should be allowed to serve students. The district is claiming the school is not “innovative” enough, and has even gone so far as to make new school board policy that says they can deny charter schools that don’t prove to be “innovative” enough. A representative of the denied charter school says it best in the Sun-Sentinel, saying the district is doing everything it can to deny charter schools “because they recognize what we have known for a very long time – when given a choice, parents send their children to schools that best serve their needs.” Indeed, the innovation argument is just an excuse to maintain the status quo, which is why while Florida’s charter school law is a strong one, it could benefit from multiple authorizers since districts are inherently not the best charter school authorizers. This anti-charter sentiment must be stopped, because while charter schools are just one piece of the puzzle in improving education options for parents, they’re an extremely important one that is creating a ripple effect statewide.

TIME RUNNING OUT … to get your application in for a second, NEW EdReformU™ course, History of Charter Schools (HistoryCS-201). The first EdReformU™ course was so successful that we’re excited to be offering this second class that gives students direct access to the people and policies that started the charter school movement. Those who complete the eight-week, fully online and mobile-accessible course starting the week of June 15 will come away with an in-depth understanding of the genesis, politics, and community role of charter school laws. Send either a resume or CV with at least one reference, along with a brief summary of why you want to apply for the course to apply@edreform.com by Sunday, June 7. Learn more at university.edreform.com.