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A Great Leap Forward For North Carolina’s Children

Statewide School Voucher and Tenure Reform
Likely to Give State a Boost on National Report Card

CER Press Release
Washington, DC
July 22, 2013

The Center for Education Reform (CER), the nation’s leading advocate for lasting, substantive and structural school reform, today called the positive movement on a statewide school-choice voucher program a “great leap forward for North Carolina families,” as it will help to ensure access to more and better educational options for low-income Tar Heel State students.

The North Carolina Legislature reached an agreement last night on the state budget, which includes offering a $4,200 scholarship for low-income families to choose a school that is the best fit for their children. The budget also addresses teacher tenure by eliminating tenure for new teachers and sets up a modest performance pay bonus system. A $6,000 scholarship for children with disabilities is also expected to pass this week.

“Parents in North Carolina have been clamoring for more power over their children’s education,” said Kara Kerwin, vice president of external affairs at The Center for Education Reform. “We applaud the bipartisan leadership in the state legislature that answered their call.”

North Carolina currently ranks 21st in the nation on the Parent Power Index©, which measures the ability in each state of a parent to exercise choices – no matter what their income or child’s level of academic achievement – engage with their local school and board, and have a voice in the systems that surround their child.

“States where parents have options to choose tend to yield higher growth rates in student achievement,” said Kerwin. “North Carolina’s work on school choice and teacher quality issues are a real boost for parents and students, but much more work is needed to expand choice so every child has access to better options.”

PA Lawmakers Must Oppose Proposed “Reform” of Charter School Law

Statement by Jeanne Allen, President, The Center for Education Reform

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
October 15, 2012

“Amendments to Pennsylvania’s charter school law, negotiated in recent days and awaiting legislative approval, would be a serious setback for charter school educators, leaders and parents.

“SB 1115, a bill originally designed to improve and expand quality charter schools, now gives the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), new, expanded powers over charter school finances and outcomes. Such a role for a state education department is unprecedented in states with strong charter laws. Pennsylvania charter schools are already held to the same standards as all other public schools yet they are accountable to their authorizers for meeting legal and financial requirements and performance milestones. When authorizers fail, it is time to reform the authorizing process, not give the PDE, which is already burdened by its current oversight duties, more regulatory power over schools that should be managed by better authorizers. Pennsylvania’s charter school law isn’t lacking in public accountability; it is lacking in the existence of strong authorizers.

“Yet authorizers in Pennsylvania — school districts — are often no better at managing charter schools than they are at managing traditional public schools. The issue facing lawmakers who are seeking to improve chartering is not to demand more state education agency oversight, but to create multiple authorizers. Multiple and independent authorizers which are the key to highly successful charter schools in 15 states have little oversight from their states’ education departments and give charter school parents and educators freedom from traditional bureaucracy to achieve performance successes that hamper success in too many traditional public schools. History and research have proven that strong authorizers serve the public good by fostering the creation of great public charter schools that serve children in need of options. Such charters are held

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Model Charter School Legislation

An essential guide to charter school lawmaking grounded on experience and practice.

Press Release
Download or print your PDF copy of The Essential Guide to Charter School Lawmaking: Model Legislation for States Grounded in Experience and Practice

Nashville Charter On Hold

“Great Hearts school ends charter bid in Nashville”
by Lisa Fingeroot
The Tennessean
September 13, 2012

Great Hearts Academies’ decision to pull out of Tennessee until state law creates an impartial charter school approval process is setting the stage for a legislative battle over who will grant approvals in the future.

After the Metro Nashville school board denied a charter to Great Hearts for the third time, the Arizona-based charter school company released a statement Wednesday saying it was withdrawing from the state.

However, Great Hearts said it might apply for a charter “when Tennessee’s laws and charter approval process more effectively provide for open enrollment, broad service to the community and impartial authorizers.”

The idea of creating a state agency to grant charters has been discussed in Tennessee and elsewhere. The Tennessee Charter School Association is researching methods used in other states to take politics out of the conversation.

“Every application should not be a brand-new political discussion,” said Matt Throckmorton, association executive director. “It is the children of Nashville that lose out to adult problems, again.”

Throckmorton called the state charter school law “flawed” and hopes to find a system that will allow charter applicants to work with local boards of education during the application process, but will not allow politics to affect the decision. That model will probably find its way into the association’s legislative agenda for January, he said.

“We are going to have charter schools — the law has been written,” he said.

Metro Nashville board members don’t consider their decisions to deny a charter to Great Hearts three times to be political. They have said the main issue was whether the school would cater to an affluent, largely white population or work to create a more diverse student body by providing transportation to students from other areas of the city.

Great Hearts, on the

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Newswire: May 8, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 19

FREEDOM TO LEARN. This week the nation celebrates National Charter Schools Week, with a Presidential proclamation that trumpets charters as “incubators of innovation… give educators the freedom to cultivate new teaching models” and more. In today’s global economy, the prerequisite for the U.S. to be competitive is a world-class education system. And, charters are leading the way to securing a quality education for all children. Here’s a round-up of the latest headway made by charter schools and their advocates:

• BASIS Tucson, a high-achieving charter school located in Tucson, Arizona, is ranked number one charter school in U.S. News & World Report’s 2012 rankings of high schools. But, the charter goes one step further securing the number six rank of all high schools nationwide! Even better news: BASIS Tucson is bringing its high-octane, high-quality learning to Washington D.C. this September.

• Massachusetts education officials are lifting a temporary moratorium on proposals to open charter schools in several cities across the state, including Boston. Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts commissioner of elementary and secondary education, points to fever-pitched demand as the reason. Case-in-point, the Boston Globereports that in Boston, the wait list at charters ranges from 550 to 2,647 students!

• Legislation that would allow higher education institutions to become charter school authorizers is heading to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who indicates she will sign the bill.

• The prestigious Frank Newman Award for State Innovation, presented by the Education Commission of the States, this year goes to New Hampshire for its success in moving beyond the time-worn Carnegie units, exemplified in the state’s Great Bay eLearning Charter School, which along with several other schools was named as part of the state’s Circle of Excellence. The Great Bay charter boasts high-quality learning in a 21st-century environment.

• Cherokee Charter Academy was host to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal as he signed

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Exploring City's Power to Authorize Charters

Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Chancellor Kaya Henderson are discussing a plan to restore the District’s power to create public charter schools as part of an effort to raise the quality of education in low-income communities.

The measure, if adopted, could accelerate the robust growth of publicly funded, independently operated schools that serve 41 percent of the city’s 77,000 students across 98 campuses. Read More…

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