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NEWSWIRE: July 7, 2015

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Vol. 17, No. 27

ESEA. The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has gotten as far as it ever has, and the debate about what role the federal government should play in education continues today at 2:30pm on the Senate floor. It’s been stressed that civil rights is the education issue of our time, and as lawmakers debate how to improve education this week, that theme rings even stronger and with more urgency given the myriad of civil rights happenings across the nation in recent months. While the White House isn’t supporting either the House or Senate versions of the bill, Politico reports that the Obama administration stopped short of threatening a veto for the Senate version like it did with the House version, and CER is hopeful the President will sign off on much-needed updates. When it comes to the federal role in education, choice and accountability are key, but particularly in that order. It’s school choice that’s going to be the difference-maker once data and performance are fully known, because tests without choice and consequences are meaningless. Listen to the debate live and follow @edreform on Twitter for key updates as the social media conversation unfolds under #FixNCLB and #ESEA hashtags.

UNIONS. The National Education Association (NEA)’s annual meeting and Representative Assembly ended yesterday, and Mike Antonucci, as always, has the most comprehensive and entertaining roundup of the event’s happenings here. Coming soon is the American Federation of Teacher (AFT)’s annual conference, from July 13-15 this year, and the questions CER posed to reporters years ago to determine if the actions of the unions are consistent with their expressed views and stated objectives are still relevant today. Although, the media has been busy lately covering teachers speaking out in favor of more control over their paycheck dollars, especially in light of the U.S. Supreme Court potentially striking down laws forcing employees to pay union dues. As unions have long surpassed their purpose as a professional association, more and more teachers are getting frustrated being forced to pay money to a group that does not represent their beliefs or values.

ONLINE. As Tennessee Virtual Academy has been forced to limit enrollment to returning students only after the good news of the court ruling allowing the school to remain open, online learning in other states is taking off. In Virginia, parents are excited about the opportunity to enroll students in a new fully virtual program. In Ohio, where there’s been drama with a few bad actors in the charter school sector, more children than ever are learning in virtual classrooms. Online learning can come in many shapes and forms; there are blended options, course choice programs, and fully online schools, and these options can be run by outside providers or can be implemented within the framework of the current traditional public school system. Regardless of the mechanism, online learning is a vital component in Parent Power and improving education in the U.S. today, as it’s opening up classrooms to the world and ensuring students access to some of the best content and educators.

#ITRUSTPARENTS. On Tuesday, July 21 at 10:00am, students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates, and families from around the country will rally on Capitol Hill in support of parents’ rights to access the best education options for their children. The rally, hosted by PublicSchoolOptions.org, will feature CER President Kara Kerwin and CER Board of Directors member Kevin Chavous, in addition to choice champions Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN). Go to publicschooloptions.org/dc-rally/ to RSVP today.