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Newswire September 5th, 2017

REINVENT IT. A lot of people still don’t know that the #edreform movement is supported by a varied group of actors: From researchers to practitioners; and, thought leaders to parents. Since its inception, the cause of school choice, in particular, has been a mutual affinity among left, right, center and none of the above.  That’s why David Osborne’s latest contribution to the story of what and why we must reinvent education is a critical read.

First off, Osborne makes a compelling argument about what reinvention of education actually is and why it is critical. Second, by using charters as a lens about how to recreate the governance and incentives of education, Osborne is one of the few in the influencer class that actually recognizes that some comparisons of averages is meaningless in the presence of varying factors guiding each charter law.  As Osbourne writes, “…[W]hen it comes to charter schools, ‘average’ has little meaning, because the 43 states (and the District of Columbia) with charters all have different laws.” 

Each school is highly dependent on a startup tapestry, with unique operational and renewal processes that have become more complex over time, and have often been misapplied by human elements. (But that’s another story and one we have covered in Charting a New Course).

END OF AVERAGE. All the talk about misunderstanding averages reminds us: If you haven’t read “The End of Average” by Harvard Professor Todd Rose, run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore or visit Amazon.com. You can also learn more about  Rose’s work by visiting Center for Individual Opportunity.

STUCK IN AVERAGE? Both Osborne and Rose in their own way make the case against using snapshots, incompatible data and assumptions about average trends. The authors of two articles published today in the Washington Post and the New York Times would benefit a lot by reading the works from Osborne and Rose.

First, an op-ed authored by longtime ed reform opponent, Tom Toch, takes the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC OSP) to task for failing to meet Toch’s idea of success. Conveniently, Toch ignores parental support for the program, and while criticizing DC OSP, he disregards any of its successes as insignificant in size. But here are the undeniable facts: Nearly 90 percent of all DC OSP students graduate from high school and an estimated 90 percent of those graduates go on to attend college.

Meanwhile, Mark Binelli uses the New York Times to recycle a variety of falsehoods and misrepresentations to attack charter schools in Michigan. Like many critics of education reform, Binelli writes from a silo, disregarding the failure, corruption and existing struggles present in the traditional system – and in the case of his story, Detroit public schools. Instead, Binelli selectively picks and chooses which schools to highlight, while not sharing with readers that Detroit’s public charter school students far outperform their peers in the city’s traditional public schools. Furthermore, the data continues to pile up from MSTEP, U.S. News & World Report, Stanford University, and Temple University finding the highest performing high schools in Michigan are charter schools. Finally, like many of his peers in the anti-ed reform community – Binelli ignores the fundamental flaw in his argument – charters depend on parents making a choice, and overwhelmingly, more and more parents in Michigan are choosing charter schools over the traditional school because they’re tired of the broken one-size-fits-all model.

25 YEARS: CELEBRATING THE FIRST CHARTER SCHOOL: The Twin Cities Pioneer Press celebrated the 25th birthday of the nation’s first public charter school. City Academy opened as one school with only 100 students and so began a movement spirited by innovation, customization and personalization. Today there are 7,000 charter schools serving more than 3 million students nationwide. At CER, we are proud to have been championing and fighting for the expansion and growth in the charter movement, and we celebrate the achievements of City Academy and all operators of parent power working to serve the needs of every child.

OPINION JOURNAL: Jeanne Allen, CER’s founder and CEO, joined the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Kissel on Thursday to discuss the ramifications of Illinois’ education funding compromise. Signed into law last week by Governor Bruce Rauner, the new law creates the state’s first private school choice program, increased funding for public charter schools, support for teacher pensions and funds traditional public schools. The compromise demonstrates that even in the darkest of blue states, education reform remains a bipartisan issue.

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AND IN CASE YOU MISSED IT.  Log onto EdReform.com for the latest on the AFT Chronicles or the ongoing effort by African-American leaders to show they have a different point of view on educational opportunity than many established organizations who claim to represent their views.