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NEWSWIRE: August 11, 2015

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Vol. 17, No. 31

CATHOLIC SCHOOL COMEBACK. According to a new report from Faith in the Future, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will have happy news to share with Pope Francis when he comes to visit in September. Philadelphia Catholic schools are projecting a growth in the number of students they serve, and the high school system, previously in deficit, is now reporting a surplus in funds, which are being reinvested back into the schools. Catholic schools have been suffering nationwide for years because of a changing education marketplace, but this report sheds light on how Faith in the Future believes they are “successfully creating a new operating model to increase educational opportunities, enhance the quality of education in Catholic schools, and demonstrate how private sector solutions can leapfrog even the most innovative charter school reforms.” Indeed, a welcome development not only for Philly, where the people in charge seem to be interested in limiting options, denying 87 percent of the latest charter school applications, but a welcome development for Catholic education as a whole, as research has shown these schools not only have impact on student outcomes, but the neighborhoods and communities they serve.

CHARTER POWER. The number of charter schools in Baton Rouge, Louisiana has doubled in just three years, with four new schools opening this month, reports The Advocate. Great news, since while 100 percent of students in New Orleans attend charter schools, districts outside of the Big Easy tend not to encourage or promote the creation of charter schools. As the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, hopefully districts across Louisiana will start to take notice just how much charter schools have helped changed student outcomes in New Orleans. But changes can’t rely on people who are in charge in those districts – strong policy must be part of the equation. Louisiana’s C-rated charter school law should be stronger to help empower all families in the Bayou State choose the best education for their kids.

MONEY MYTHS. A report out by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute helps dispel the misconceptions about charter school funding in the nation’s capital. Critics have long claimed that private philanthropy has played a major role in the success and sustainability of the charter sector sometime referred to as the “evil, private special interests.” However, this new report reveals only six percent of funds for D.C. charters come from private sources (mostly parent bake sales), averaging less than $500 per student annually. The fact is public charter schools are funded at approximately 36 percent less than their traditional public school counterparts, and even D.C., which has an otherwise strong charter law, comes up short for charters, which is why schools here are in the midst of a suit for equity for all kids.

GOODBYE SUMMER INTERNS. As parents and students across the country are gearing up for back to school, so too are CER’s summer interns. And while we’re sad to see them go, we know they’re heading back to their institutions of higher education armed with the knowledge, information and data about the kinds of reforms needed to ensure all parents have access to options that deliver on the promise of an excellent education for children. How do we know this? We’d tell you, but they tell it better in their own words on CER’s blog, Edspresso, where they have their own Intern Corner. Here are a few excerpts:

I was immediately struck by the CER logo, most specifically by the sun. It was fun, something a little different. However, as time went on, I learned just how much the sun embodies CER’s mission and work. [My experience at CER] allowed me to see that education is not limited to a traditional public school setting but rather that every child is unique and as a result every child has a right to his own choice of school. Education is the great equalizer; this is something we must cherish as well as protect. The sun can never set on education reform until every parent has a choice so every child has a chance.”
Read the full post here

“How was your summer working at the National Education Association?”
“Great, except I spent my summer working at The Center for Education Reform.”
This small conversation with my dad parallels a prominent aspect of the Education Reform movement: the power and importance of knowledge and information. …One of the most important things I learned was that this movement would be nothing if parents and community members were not accurately informed about their options of education for their children.

“The words I have heard on an almost daily basis, ‘The work in this movement is never done’, inspire me to continue work with the education reform movement long after I exit the office of CER for the final time this summer.
Read the full post here

We’re thankful for our interns’ hard work and dedication, and are excited to see what they will to do help advance education reform in the U.S. And we’re excited to get our Fall 2015 interns, so if you fit the bill or know someone who does, be sure to apply today!

PARENT POWER. As another CER intern wisely noted reflecting on her summer, it’s vitally important for parents to have options, but just as important for parents to have access to information about options. This is why CER’s Parent Power Index is getting a makeover with new data and tools, so parents can more easily navigate (and go mobile too) and see just how much – or – little power their state affords them. Stay tuned!