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Newswire July 11th, 2017

PERSONALIZED LEARNING GAINS…  a big endorsement from a newly released RAND report which finds that students who engage in PL do better in math than their peers and gives an added boost to kids who are behind their classmates and trying to catch up.  The report also found that schools in the study “were pursuing a wide variety of practices to focus on the learning needs of each individual student in a supportive and flexible way;” and that “students experienced positive achievement effects and closed gaps relative to national norms.”  Oh, and it also found that the “implementation and effects [of PL] both seemed stronger in the charter schools than in the district schools.” Want to learn more about PL?  Start here.

TICK-TICK-TICK.  If the teacher unions thought independent charter schools were a looming threat, (see the NEA’s new policy statement that supports “limiting charter growth” and “slow[ing] the diversion of resources from neighborhood public schools to charters”) they must be beside themselves waiting to find out if SCOTUS will take up Bain v. California Teachers Association, which, The Washington Examiner succinctly explains is “a lawsuit that could end the ability of public-sector unions to force workers like her to support its political activities.” Talk about a threat!

A NATIONAL AUDIENCE FOR CHARTERS.  Charter schools were front and center on TV sets around the nation Sunday when NBC’s Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly featured Boys Latin Founder & CER Board Member David Hardy in its piece on the controversy in urban communities over charter schools, and how people are responding.  (The interview was arranged by CER so the reporter could focus on this school as part of the larger debate about how and why charter schools just may fix what ails many communities.) It was a well done, balanced report and David was a great advocate for charters. Still, as noted by pioneer Joe Nathan.

Many larger issues were left unaddressed, such as the fact that having choices is one of the fundamental principles of America. Piece begins at the 14:00 minute mark of the broadcast.

IN ANOTHER MEDIA COUP.  In a Special Report on the what the SCOTUS Trinity Lutheran Church ruling means for the future of school choice, Fox Newsfeatured (via another CER-brokered interview) founding president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, Darrell Allison, who was also an impressive spokesperson for choice.  Between actions by the Trump administration, Supreme Court rulings, and various legislative efforts in states across the nation, the charter/choice/equitable funding/education innovation debate(s) are finally receiving the attention they deserve from the mainstream media. Now the trick is to get reporters and editors to stay focused – and remain fair – when covering these transformative issues.

AND IN LOCAL NEWS.  The aforementioned debates have been occurring locally for years, and are still going on…with some yielding rather interesting debate points. Witness the appearance of Jim Bender, president of School Choice Wisconsin and Tim Slekar, dean of the school of education at Edgewood College, on Madison’s “Capital City Sunday.”  As reported in The Capital Times, Mr. Bender argued that President Trump’s emphasis on school choice was a good thing, giving “parents options on top of the traditional public school system here in Wisconsin.” Mr. Selkar, in responding to points raised by Mr. Bender, conceded that “If you’re an African-American in Madison … the public system is failing you.” But, his argument went, that’s not the point, because “It’s not about public schools failing, it’s about the idea that people are meddling and public schools aren’t allowed to use and do the things we’re supposed to do.”

INSIGHT, CONTEXT AND CONCLUSIONS.  In a well-reasoned op-ed appearing in the Boston Globe, Eric Fehrnstrom provides some little-known historical insight into the Blaine Amendment and looks at the impact of the Supreme Court’s Trinity Lutheran decision. Pointing to other cases that the Court returned to the states for further consideration, Fehrnstrom notes that “While the Court has not yet ruled on [the] larger funding questions [in these cases], it would be hard for the justices to depart from the logic of their reasoning in Trinity Lutheran simply because the benefit is more substantial than a playground resurfacing.” In other words, he concludes, this spells an end to “…the idea that you can treat churches differently for no other reason than they are religious, and that is a victory for liberty.” Good piece. Worth a read.