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Newswire: April 4, 2017

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… The Trump campaign made it clear they’d give states and localities unprecedented flexibility. He also said he’d ensure that disadvantaged families would have unprecedented access to school choice. Once in charge, he passed the baton to his new EdSec Betsy DeVos, who has said that not only will the ESSA state review process be fluid but that she will look for ways to encourage innovation as well as open up the conversation for how school choice might be encouraged. This is consistent with the vision of the bill’s main steward, HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander. So innovators, start your engines…

SOME ARE WARY. Pray tell, why? Some Members of Congress just can’t live without micromanaging education policy. According to Politico Education, several Democratic Senators want the ESSA plans to consult with “stakeholders” (AKA the Education Blob). But that rule was removed by the new EdSec to allow states to decide how best to develop their plans. The notion that Washington should be telling states who to talk to is, well, it’s nuts. Here’s why we think so.


MILITARY CHOICES. We’ve said it before – we should stop at nothing when it comes to serving Military families. And we’ve written about it. So we are thrilled to see that military options are the subject of much talk in Washington and around the country. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced a bill this year which would provide scholarships to students in military families on base of up to $8,000 for elementary school students and $12,000 for high school students. On the charter front, bases such as Washington, DC’s Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling have invited proposals for a new charter school to serve families.  We would take it all step further – how about a full voucher for every child of an active or veteran military family to attend the public, private or public charter of their choice, no matter where they are located? That would be the least we could do.

DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS.  Good news, bad news this week in Texas where the Senate passed a bill which would create a tax credit scholarship program for low income students as well as Education Savings Accounts for low income students who want to attend private schools. If it clears the Texas House the Lone Star State would join 25 other states and DC in advancing parent power and choice. The bad news: chair of the Texas House Committee on Public Education, Rep. Dan Huberty says he sees the bill is dead.  Want to help? Contact Texans for Parent Power.

MEANWHILE IN THE SHOW ME STATE.  Recently the Missouri House passed Rep. Rebecca Roeber’s bill which would fix a major flaw in the state’s charter school law: that charter schools are only allowed in Kansas City and St. Louis. But the bill, now in the Senate, is in jeopardy of being tabled because of an exceptionally heavy legislative case load. If you live in Missouri, contact your senator and let him or her know that ensuring opportunity for students is one of the most important things that they can do, and to vote for the darn bill! Contact MissouriCharterSchools.org to get involved in bringing more opportunities to Missouri!

IN OTHER NEWS. Congratulations to West Michigan Academy of Environmental Sciences principal Kerri Barrett, who is one of the top finalists for the state’s administrator of the year.  Her school also happens to be one of the highest ranking in the state among all public schools. Oh, and its run by a local management company. (Thanks go to the state’s charter advocacy group, MAPSA, for the heads up.)