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NEWSWIRE: October 6, 2015

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Vol. 17, No. 39

NEW SHERIFF AT 400 MARYLAND AVE. Last week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced his resignation. A thank you for his service and well wishes to him and his family are in order. While Duncan has been fairly supportive of charter schools, he hasn’t been so supportive of other forms of school choice like D.C.’s voucher program, which the Obama administration has for four years tried to defund and eliminate. The acting education secretary role will be filled by Deputy Education Secretary John King, who has a history of standing up to special interest groups during his time as Ed Commissioner of New York. In fact, head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Randi Weingarten was not shy about voicing her opinion, saying the AFT was “disappointed” because of the “polarization” King created in the Empire State. But CER President Kara Kerwin and other edreformers are hopeful that King’s demonstrated pro-parent stance won’t be watered down by an Administration that hasn’t fully embraced school choice.

BOEHNER’S MARK. Leave it to Speaker Boehner, a champion for school choice and Parent Power, to make sure the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program forges on before he resigns from Congress at the end of October. “The program isn’t up for renewal this year, but Boehner seems to want to make doubly sure it stays on the books,” writes  Education Week’s Alyson Klein. The program is a beacon of hope for students in the nation’s capital, with a 90 percent graduation rate for voucher recipients, a much higher rate than D.C. Public Schools’ graduation rate of 58 percent. And not only that, but research reveals D.C. parents are empowered by this program, so it certainly would be wise to ensure vouchers not only remain an option, but grow to serve more students in need.

MOTION DENIED. The motion to dismiss the lawsuit aimed at securing equitable funding for D.C. public charter school students has been denied, and a federal judge will hear the case sometime in the coming months. The lawsuit contends that D.C. charters have been shortchanged around $2,000 per student since 2008, amounting to upwards of $770 million in total. D.C. charter schools and the coalition of groups who filed an amicus brief in January, CER included, believe this is in violation of the School Reform Act, which requires a per-student funding model to apply to all public schools equally. Charter schools are public schools, and it’s unacceptable to shortchange these alternative public options that serve nearly half of D.C. students.

200,000. That’s how many students are benefiting from education tax credit scholarships according to the latest edition of School Choice Today: Education Tax Credit Laws Across the States 2015 Ranking and Scorecard. But that number could, and should, be so much higher. Not only do states that implement tax credit programs see reductions in overall expenditures and greater investments in K-12 education, but perhaps the most important aspect of these programs is that they shift the power to choose from bureaucrats to parents. With eight of the 16 states that have education tax credit programs enacting them in the last three years, CER created this report as a roadmap to help lawmakers, parents, and advocates looking to bring about substantive and lasting change in a way that creates a marketplace where parents have the power to make choices among excellent options. We welcome your feedback and discourse on the latest rankings!

CLASS IN SESSION. EdReformU is back in action with the first class of the new and improved Decline and Fall of the U.S. Education System (HistoryER-101) kicking off tonight. The class arms the next generation of edreformers with the knowledge and connections they need to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself, and that reforms continue to be innovative and substantive to ensure all children have access to an education that best fits their needs. “It’s one of the best courses I have taken,” says former student Carla Gibson. Hear what else former students have to say, and get ready for these students to be some of the next movers and shakers in the edreform movement.

JOB OPENING. Seems like everyone these days is looking for the best talent to fill big roles, and the Nevada Achievement School District is on that list as it’s searching for an Executive Director. The executive search team at Bellwether Education Partners is leading the search, so to find out more about the position and apply, visit their website.