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NEWSWIRE: July 14, 2015

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Vol. 17, No. 28

DANGEROUS AMENDMENT. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act is still being debated this week in Congress, and CER got wind of an amendment that’s a veiled attempt at destroying charter schools. Under the guise of accountability, union-backed Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced an amendment that would force states to comply with new and onerous regulations that micro-manage charter school operations and finance, as well as dictate under what terms states may and may not hold schools accountable. The amendment would have the effect of putting the federal education department in charge of charter school oversight, requiring states to adopt new and burdensome rules which conflict with current state authorizing preferences and differ state by state. Not only is the proposed charter school language in Every Child Achieves Act already infused with substantial oversight, but this amendment “is just bad policy, period,” says CER President Kara Kerwin. “We urge the U.S. Senate to reject any further attempts at making charter schools operate like the failed public school bureaucracy they were created to change.”

AUTHORIZERS MATTER. Loudoun County, Virginia is getting its second charter school. Why is this news? Because Virginia’s F-rated law makes it extremely difficult to open and operate charter schools in the Commonwealth. WAMU highlights one of the law’s main weaknesses: all chartering power rests solely in the hands of local school boards. Districts typically aren’t friendly towards charter schools, but because some Loudoun board members ran on a platform to expand school choice, a second charter school was approved. It’s dangerous when policies are in place that rely on individuals in power, rather than create the conditions necessary for a structure that puts students and families’ interests first. A constitutional amendment to change this has been introduced, but must get approved by two different General Assemblies to go into effect.

PROFICIENCY GAP. The National Center for Education Statistics compared state performance with 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, and the results indicate states still have a long way to go in implementing high standards. The Foundation for Excellence in Education launched WhyProficiencyMatters.com to shed light on this “proficiency gap” because it creates a false sense of proficiency and achievement. Take Alabama, for example, which ranks 47th on CER’s Parent Power Index, where proficiency gaps between NAEP and state scores are above 50 percentage points for math and reading for fourth and eighth graders. According to Alabama, 88 percent of fourth graders are proficient in reading, but according to NAEP, 31 percent of Alabama fourth graders can read at grade level. States must raise the bar on proficiency expectations if our education system is to live up to the promise of delivering an excellent education for every child so that they’re prepared for life beyond K-12.

#TRANSFORMEDREFORM. CER is lucky to get amazing interns, and this summer is no exception. Today, our interns hosted an event at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute that they planned and coordinated on their own called “EdReform: Past, Present, & Future.” Panelists included John Bailey, Vice President of Policy of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and Executive Director of Digital Learning Now, Michael Musante, Senior Director of Government Relations of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS), Michael Petrilli, President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Jill Turgeon, the Vice Chair of the Loudoun County School Board. Get a recap of the conversation and join in on social media under the hashtag #TransformEdReform. And if you know someone who would make our next great intern, CER is now accepting applications for the fall.

ELECTION 2016. In preparation for the 2016 election, The Seventy Four, a new nonprofit, non-partisan news site, with the American Federation for Children and the Des Moines Register, will be hosting two Education Summits to shine a spotlight on the importance of education and engage elected officials in public discussions surrounding challenges to improve U.S. education. The first summit is set for August 19 in New Hampshire, with a second to follow in Iowa in October. As governors enter the presidential race, find out where they stand on school choice, charter schools, and teacher pay with CER’s Education Fifty.

RALLY ON THE HILL. In just one week, we’ll be joining parents, students, teachers, advocates, and more who will be rallying because they believe parents deserve more power in education. If you’re in D.C. next Tuesday, July 21 at 10:00am, don’t miss the #ITrustParents rally for School Choice. Put on by PublicSchoolOptions.org, the rally will feature CER President Kara Kerwin and CER Board of Directors member Kevin Chavous, Go to publicschooloptions.org/dc-rally/ to RSVP today.