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Newswire – August 27, 2019

Okay it’s not as sizzling (or muddy) as Woodstock and the Summer of Love but it has all the trappings (minus the Sex, Drugs and Rock&Roll)....To wit, here are the greatest hits - of CER’s Summer of Choice - an intensive promotion of education opportunity - info that you need to take back to your home, office, legislative work, or wherever you engage on behalf of the kids, because there is no time to lose!

TAKE AMERICA BACK TO SCHOOL. It’s a greatest hit when we learn that support for school choice & charter schools is growing, as evidenced by the most recent Education Next Poll  but we still have work to do! Despite growing controversy and partisan divides over charter schools, most Americans show a lack of full understanding about what they are and the policies that govern them.  Only 22% of people surveyed knew that charters can’t hold religious services & only 27% realized that charters can’t charge tuition. However, it’s important to note that the way a question is asked has everything to do with the answers. CER learned over the years that most people still don’t know what a charter school is, so it’s important to ask if they like what it stands for, before telling them what it is. When asked if they support public schools open by choice, free from most rules and regulations governing other public schools and accountable for results, the results are 73% in favor of charter schools. When it comes to school choice in general, language matters. Seventy-two percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the term “parent choice”, and 74% have a favorable opinion of the term “school choice,” with fewer than 1-out-of-5 having a negative opinion of those terms.  CER is educating the public about charters through our June 2019 paper, The Path to Charter Schools.

TAKE AMERICA BACK TO SCHOOL - Part 2. Education Next also surveyed students, who agreed with their parents on most issues in the poll, but gave their schools lower grades than their parents did.  

TAKING NYC CHANCELLOR TO TASK.  Some of us are scratching our heads wildly asking “who the heck does this guy think he is?!” Chancellor Richard Carranza doesn’t do well getting kids to learn, but he sure knows how to please the adults running the schools — as the off-the-charts pay hikes show. The NY Post rightly calls this out as scandalous. 

ISOMORPHISM REDUX. Probably the best term to describe the continual rollback and challenges to the charter movement across the nation and in DC, Isomorphism is in full gear sadly throughout policy circles. The operational flexibility and freedom once afforded charters almost universally has caught a regulatory fervor that its own advocates have invited, slowly “morphing” them into organizations like those they sought to disrupt: more bureaucratic, risk averse, and fixated on process over experimentation. Such organizational behavior is, in academic parlance, called isomorphism, the behavior that allows once innovative organizations to resemble those they once disrupted. This phenomenon was covered in detail in CER’s major review of reform but it seems DC’s most prominent charter school reporter is seeing the potential for deja vu all over again here, too.

NEVER HURTS TO KNOW HISTORY. The world of education innovation has its roots in many hands, hearts and minds, but few were as impactful on the growth of personalized learning than Barbara Dreyer, co-founder and first CEO of Connections Academy, which put online learning on the map for hundreds of thousands throughout the country. Knowing how schools like this were started, as well the toil it took, along with the demand from parents, is a history lesson everyone should understand. This remarkable tribute from Mickey Revanaugh  who was there at the beginning, is truly one of the all time greatest hits of edreform!

MY MY MY GENERATION.  Fifty years ago at Woodstock, The Who sang “people try to put us d-down (talkin' 'bout my generation)”.  Well, we won’t put Generation Z down! CER hosts interns year-round to build the next generation of ed reformers and innovators.  We were pleased to hear this week from spring 2018 intern Olivia Wang (Georgetown ‘19) that she just accepted a position supporting the Minority Senate HELP Committee under the Education Policy Office! She says, “Grateful for CER for providing me with the professional experience to help me get the position.”  Summer 2018 intern Chelsey Williams (Claflin ‘19) wrote us that she has been accepted into the Teach for America corps and “this fall I will be teaching 11th grade English at RON BROWN HIGH SCHOOL!!!!! I am super excited about being back in D.C.”  Congratulations to both! This fall, CER welcomes back 2 of our interns from summer 2019, Brianna Nave and Ashley McClellan, who will serve as CER fellows this academic year. CER still has one intern position open for fall 2019, so please encourage DC-based college juniors to apply!

Olivia Wang, Chelsey Williams, Brianna Nave, Ashley McClellan

From Left: Olivia Wang, Chelsey Williams, Brianna Nave, Ashley McClellan


As always, please drop us a line, with any input and suggestions.

Founded in 1993, the Center for Education Reform aims to expand educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans — particularly our youth — ensuring that conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom and flexibility throughout U.S. education.