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NEWSWIRE: September 1, 2015

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Vol. 17 No. 34

PROFESSIONALISM PREVAILS. Teachers are growing increasingly dissatisfied having to join a group that doesn’t always align with their personal beliefs, particularly when it comes to the workplace and reform, according to the Association of American Educators’ (AAE) latest survey about the workplace and pension policies. Representing views from teachers in every state, the survey finds that 70 percent of AAE members support Worker’s Choice, a proposed policy that would allow a teacher to opt-out of the bargaining agreement in their district and negotiate their own salary and benefits. While traditional teacher unions would have the public believe otherwise, it’s clear that teachers are growing in their support for more commonsense policies that allow for greater professionalism when it comes to their ever-so-important jobs of educating our nation’s future leaders.

CHARM CITY NEEDS CHOICE. What’s the one aspect of the urban condition that has changed little in Baltimore but has the potential to transform a person’s life and livelihood and change communities?, asks CER Board Chair Frank A. Bonsal III in the Baltimore Sun. Answer: Education. Of all Maryland’s 24 school districts, Baltimore City spends at or near the top per student, yet just 16 percent of 8th graders and 14 percent of 4th graders are proficient in reading. Charter schools are helping, but improving Maryland’s charter school law could help them do more. Newswire readers remember Maryland’s Governor Hogan tried to get legislation passed that would improve the state’s charter school law, but it was ultimately gutted and passed by the legislature. Conflicted adults must recognize the system we’ve created for our kids is a hard-wired infrastructure born from decades of political wranglings, far from the innovative and pathbreaking mindset of the visionaries like the Calvert family and others who helped paved the way for Maryland in the 1630s. To bring immediate progress when it comes to educational equity, it’s time to create the conditions that allow for ALL Marylanders to have choices among excellent schools; school choice must be part of Maryland’s future.

CHOICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY. Parents want both when it comes to their child’s education, so naturally it’s what we hope to hear when it comes to candidate hopefuls’ education platforms. Presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s views on education came under the microscope in the Tampa Bay Times, with the critique that the former Florida Governor is for choice, but not when it comes to testing. CER senior fellow and president emeritus Jeanne Allen is quick to point out, however, that the two are not contradictory. In fact, the status-quo, agenda-driven PDK/Gallup poll results indicate that for parents who have historically been underserved by the traditional school system, both choices and standards are important, and testing is an important indicator for assessing how well their children and schools are doing. Seventy-five percent of black respondents and 65 percent of Hispanic respondents would not excuse their child from testing, compared to 44 percent of white PDK/Gallup poll respondents. Bottom line is that choice and accountability are vital, and the two go hand in hand.

SHOULDN’T TAKE A HURRICANE… to create all-choice districts, CER President Kara Kerwin told the Washington Examiner last week as the nation remembered the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. As the nation reflects on how much progress New Orleans has made in education, some fail to give credit where credit is due, and that’s to school choice and the unsung heroes that went above and beyond the red tape to get kids learning as soon as possible after the storm. Kerwin recalls the tremendous efforts of these people after Katrina to rethink, reshape, and reform business as usual, and the tremendous resistance that was met even then, as CER put pressure on the on the U.S. Department of Education, state governments and municipalities to send relief and revamp policies to help kids. But persistence paid off, and helped improve education outcomes in New Orleans. It’s time to take these lessons and apply them across the country; “Families want the freedom to choose, and they surely don’t need a hurricane to make it happen. It’s time…to answer their call.”

NASHVILLE UPDATE. Three charter school operators have officially filed appeals in Music City, with two from KIPP, one from Rocketship Education, and one from The International Academy of Excellence. What happens next is the State Board of Education will review the schools’ applications, schedule public hearings and make a decision within 60 days. Currently, the board is scheduled to make decisions on applications during their meeting on October 22. If you remember from last week’s Newswire, the State Board’s decision is now binding thanks to an update to the law in 2014. We’re certain these opportunities to provide excellent education options to Nashville families will prevail, and stand with operators who won’t stop in their mission to make sure every child has a choice. KIPP Nashville Executive Director Randy Dowell hits the nail on the head, saying, “Until every kid has multiple school choices that are great, we feel the need to keep working and to keep going with this process.”