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NEWSWIRE: September 9, 2015

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Vol. 17 No. 35

#SAVEWACHARTERSCHOOLS. As Americans were getting ready to enjoy Labor Day weekend late Friday afternoon, the Washington State Supreme Court handed down a ruling that deemed the state’s newly opened public charter schools – which were filled to capacity – unconstitutional. Rick Hess calls this move “especially gutless,” and we have to agree, especially when you consider the facts. Charter schools are serving more Title I students, are oversubscribed because students WANT to be there, and the justices who decided to go against charter schools received money from – guess who – the Washington State teachers union. Pretty sickening to think about how political this decision was when it’s kids futures that are on the line. Thankfully, charter school leaders and teachers are doing everything in their power to ensure there’s no disruption in schooling for the 1,200 public charter school students while local and national leaders press Governor Jay Inslee to hold a special session to address the state’s charter law. You don’t have to live in Washington State to call on the governor to do what’s best for kids. Take Action NOW at http://p2a.co/savewacharters to tell the governor that public charter schools must remain open for students.

HIGH DEMAND. It’s no secret that charter schools across the nation are achieving great outcomes for kids, despite what status-quo groups like teachers unions are trying to tell the public. In Washington State, while charter schools are new and the law is limited, parents will tell you first-hand that their children are better off in these schools:

Washington Mom @JessicaLinford tweets: @GovInslee This school has changed our lives. Please help us WAcharterkid#SaveWAcharterschools 

Spokane International Academy (SIA) parent says: “In the few short days that SIA has been open we have seen a drastic difference in our son between this year and last year. He is happy. He is more confident. He knows he can do this. He knows it’s ok to make mistakes. He knows he is going to grow. He is relaxed. We chose SIA because of the academic rigor, the foreign language, and the overall concept of REACH. We see it in action already. The topics covered at Open House showed the innovation and commitment that your staff has brought to the table. We are proud of what you and the team have put together so far. We appreciate all of you fighting for a different kind of education for students. The kind of education we want for our children.”

Even a former Colorado charter school student who is now living in Washington State, beamed she got the “best education ever” from her charter school and commented on Facebook after the ruling asking how the public can help. “I don’t have kids and don’t have any affiliation with SIA,” she said, “but… I work with at risk youth and one of the problems is that a lot of kids get lost in the shuffle of public schools and a traditional education is not what they need.”

STRIKE. It looks like the BLOB in Washington state is determined to keep kids out of any school, as new broke today of Seattle teachers going on strike, leaving 53,000 traditional public school students stranded on what was supposed to be their first day of school. Meanwhile, you’ve got charter school students in seats despite a ruling that their school is technically “illegal” because the teachers, kids, and families all want to be there, and will do whatever they can to make sure students don’t lose valuable learning time. Or as Rick Hess puts it, “We’ll see if Washington State’s myopic mandarins really have the nerve to ask law enforcement to shut down these ‘speakeasy’ schools in order to stop the state’s charter school students from illegally pursuing a public education.”

MILLION DOLLAR DEBATE. Back in 2010, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg pledged $100 million dollars to Newark to improve education in the New Jersey city. Today, that amount is more along the lines of $200 million, and there’s debate over whether that money has truly had an impact. While a portion of funds have helped the proliferation of charter schools, and has actually resulted in a nearly nine percent increase over three years in reading achievement for third graders, a majority of the money has gone towards conducting business as usual, which doesn’t translate into results for kids. The biggest portion of money has gone towards retroactive pay and merit bonuses for teachers, however because of political pressure from unions, test scores count for 10 percent rather than the original proposal of up to 30 percent in overall evaluations. The lesson here is that money will only go so far without systems in place that foster innovation and permit teachers to set high expectations with newfound resources.

ELSEWHERE IN NJ… The NJSCERA is hosting a conference on September 22 on the Camden Public School System, exploring the question of whether it can serve as an effective example of urban school reform for the country. Visit here for details and registration information.

MAKE HISTORY… Don’t repeat it. That’s the goal of EdReformU™, the nation’s first and only effort to create a higher education certificate program to inform, educate and arm the next generation of leaders to make real change happen in America’s schools. Interested in enrolling? Don’t miss your chance! Space is limited, and you must enroll by September 25. Visit university.edreform.com for more information.