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NEWSWIRE: October 27, 2015

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Vol. 17, No. 42

VICTORY IN TN. Last Friday, the Tennessee State Board of Education made its first-ever binding charter school appeal, approving two KIPP schools for Nashville. Thanks to an update to The Volunteer State’s charter school law in 2014 making the appeal process binding, districts like Nashville can no longer unfairly deny much-needed choices for students by refusing to comply with recommendations for approval. The Metro Nashville Public Schools district isn’t unlike many districts across the nation when it comes to undeservedly denying charter schools. In fact, in 2012, Great Hearts Academy decided to withdraw from helping students in the state due to the Music City district’s unwillingness to approve a school. While Tennessee could still benefit from multiple charter school authorizers, this is a solid win and victorious precedent for students and families in need of excellent education options.

ALL ABOARD THE UNION TRAIN. As the presidential election gets more heated, and Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi hold elections for governor, it’s appropriate to point out how many state laws unfortunately prioritize agendas of teacher unions over the needs of students, taxpayers and even teachers themselves. Teacher unions have evolved into self-preserving bureaucracies, building protections and power for union leaders into state and local policies as they go, as evidenced by their marketing plan surrounding agency fees. Attendees at #EIE15 got to hear first-hand from CER senior fellow Jeanne Allen about what some states are doing to try to derail the union gravy train. Be sure you know which candidates are bound to keep the union train chugging along, and which ones will stand up for choice for parents and educators alike.

TOO MUCH TESTING? In response to a national backlash and concern against over-testing, President Obama is calling for educational testing to take up to only two percent of classroom time. However, Hoover Institution’s Terry Moe, when talking to The Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal warns that we “need some sort of balance or happy medium here” when it comes to testing. Tests are needed because they’re an important accountability tool, and, as Moe reminds us, the reason we have the modern-day education reform movement is because states and local governments were doing a lousy job of providing quality education opportunities (cue the union gravy train echoing in the distance!). Performance-based accountability is critical, but we also have to remember the important nuances of how performance is defined. Providing more excellent choices for students can help increase bottom-up accountability, allowing parents the power to choose the schools they know work best for their kids.

ICYMI: #SAVEWACHARTERS UPDATE. Last Friday wasn’t just busy in Tennessee, but in Washington as well, with the state charter association, along with other intervenors, filing a motion for reconsideration in the State Supreme Court’s case against charter schools. Yesterday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, joined the call for the high court to reconsider the ruling.

DO YOU KNOW OUR NEXT INTERN? We’re so thankful for our fall 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 even more excited to see who will join our next cohort of interns for the Spring 2016 semester! As a CER intern, you won’t be getting coffee, but doing work that makes a real difference for kids – if you or someone you know fits the bill, be sure to apply today!

SURVEY SAYS…If you are a charter school, we want to hear from you! CER is encouraging all charter schools to take our 2015 National Charter Schools Survey. The survey results are analyzed and published as CER’s Survey of America’s Charter Schools, a vital publication that since 1996 has helped set the record straight in the media and in statehouses on charter schools. Click here to take the survey, or contact CER at 800-521-2118 or tlosey@edreform.com if you would prefer a hard copy.