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Teachers union dues case vies for Supreme Court

For somebody who says she is pro-union, public school assistant principal Bhavini Bhakta certainly has her union worried.

She is one of the plaintiffs in Bain v. California Teachers Association, a lawsuit that could end the ability of public-sector unions to force workers like her to support its political activities. It is one of three cases vying for the Supreme Court’s attention that could be a serious blow to public-sector unions.

“I would like to see CTA reformed so that it actually represents us. I do believe in labor unions,” Bhakta, a registered Democrat, told the Washington Examiner. “I just don’t believe that what we have now works at all.”

Under California law, unions can charge teachers for expenses related to collective bargaining as well as the unions’ political activities, regardless of whether the teachers support that political spending. Bain v. CTA argues that the political fees are unconstitutional under the First Amendment and dissenting teachers such as Bhakta shouldn’t have to pay for them. Private-sector union workers already have the right to opt out of those fees under the Supreme Court’s 1988 Beck decision.

Bhakti, an assistant principal at Arcadia Unified School District in Arcadia, Calif., and her co-plaintiffs, teachers April Bain and Clare Sobetski, are being represented with help from StudentsFirst, the nonprofit group founded by education reformer Michelle Rhee.

Should Bhakta and her co-plaintiffs prevail, it could be a severe financial blow to the unions, which depend on the funding to their political spending. The Supreme Court already has taken a skeptical view of these fees. In 2012’s Knox v. SEIU, it said the union could not make members pay a one-time special assessment for political spending without giving them the opportunity to opt out first.

Bain v. CTA is before the West Coast’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the more liberal appeals courts. “We are just waiting

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Nevada’s AB49 a Giant Step Backward For Charters

June 2, 2016

CONTACT: Leonora Cravotta, Director Communications | (202) 750-0016 |leonora@edreform.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The leaders of The Charter School Roundtable have cautioned Nevada’s policymakers against enacting Assembly Bill No. 49, a bill creating “an overly bureaucratic and non-charter friendly environment for Nevada and will have the effect of limiting all growth and development other than schools that operate in similar ways to traditional public schools.”

In the letter, the Roundtable, a national leadership group dedicated to sound charter school policy and representing hundreds of thousands of students, cautioned the lawmakers that this bill would put charter schools in the same regulatory path that traditional public school educators have been fighting for years.

“You were probably told that this bill would ensure increased accountability for public charter schools in Nevada. If the traditional public schools like those in Clark County are your model of accountability, this is your bill.”

AB49 was proposed by the State Public Charter School Authority (SPCSA) to strengthen its hand in making decisions about charter schools. Instead, it creates a punitive, input-driven, and flawed policies that put traditional public school districts on a path to failure.  While requiring more regulatory paperwork and innovation-averse behaviors of charters, the Charter Authority itself would be exempt from the Administrative Procedures Act and therefore permitted to operate outside of all other public agency requirements, including transparency.

The leaders cautioned the Senators: “Please do not support AB49. It is not amendable as constructed and all students deserve better than this.”

Among the signers were schools belonging

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Statement by Jeanne Allen, Founder & CEO, On the official release of the Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget for the US Department of Education

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Contact: Leonora Cravotta, Director of Communications, (202) 750-0016, leonora@edreform.com

Much more can and will be said about the Administration’s proposed budget. For now, we should use it to open a national dialogue about how we educate, not how much we spend.

The president’s budget is neither offensive nor unfair. It contains some recognition that the federal government’s efforts should follow state and local efforts and not further federal programs that fail to advance or transform learning.

The real question today, and always, should be: ‘How does federal spending better enable and advance critical educational opportunities for students?’

Do programs support the many state and local approaches to fueling improved teaching and learning, or do they exist merely for their own sake, independent of state action, born of, and protected by, interest groups?

Throughout the nation, at all levels, policymakers, parents, teachers and innovators are leading critical new endeavors to focus on student achievement, some by using new technologies in the classroom, some by implementing new schools of choice, some through boosting the traditional activities of districts.

Federal funding should support these efforts, not sustain or increase previously sanctioned programs that do not follow the needs of communities.

Federal education programs for primary and secondary grades represent only a fraction of total K-12 and supplemental spending – funding programs that, over time, have had mixed reviews. Those who gain from those programs always argue that the funds are “necessary” regardless of their effectiveness.

Despite nearly forty years of effort by the US Department of Education, we remain A Nation at Risk. Our students are woefully unprepared for modern day challenges locally and globally, in large measure because we persist in funding programs and not students and where and how they learn best.

Instead of focusing on budgetary line

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Florida Legislature Passes Charter School Expansion Bill, Awaits Signature from Governor

May 17th, 2017

Contact: Leonora Cravotta, Director of Communications, (202) 750-0016, leonora@edreform.com

(Washington DC.) The Florida Legislature passed HB7069 earlier this month. The Best and Brightest Teachers bill would allow for more opportunities to serve students most in need of great education. The bill is currently waiting on the signature of Governor Rick Scott.

Jon Hage, the CEO of Charter Schools USA and Center for Education Reform board member, said, “I am hopeful Governor Scott will continue to demonstrate his ability to rise above politics and support the very priorities upon which his legacy will be built: support for educational choice for families, dedication to students with special needs, and rewards for highly effective educators.”

The bill helps successful charter schools to grow and to serve more low-income students. The funds that are allocated for their education would follow them to the school that serves them, and ensure equitable distribution of Title 1 funds. It rewards highly effective teachers and principals with additional compensation.

While hopeful that Governor Rick Scott will sign the legislation, advocates are nevertheless pressing him to do so.

“We share the enthusiasm of leaders throughout Florida that this legislation addresses critical deficiencies in the charter school landscape in FL and is a benefit for its kids,” said Center for Education Reform CEO Jeanne Allen.

Data for School Choice


Collection of data on school choice and breakdown by race, from Greg Forster:

Here’s my recent review of the literature. And here’s a deep dive on methodology. And here’s data on how private schools and their populations have changed in places with school choice (including huge increase in minority private school enrollment in Milwaukee).

Info on school choice among lawmakers, from Lindsey Burke:

How members of Congress practice private school choice.

Info on school choice among lawmakers and links to NCES data, from Joe McTighe:

Here’s an article on where HELP Committee Dems send their kids to school. And here are links to the NCES survey I mentioned:

64% of private schools in 2011-12 had at least one IEP student.

7% of K-12 private school students in 2011-12 had an IEP.

CER Just Celebrated School Choice With President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary DeVos

Earlier this week, our founder and CEO, Jeanne Allen, joined a celebration of school choice in the District of Columbia at the White House. She was joined by students from local schools; leaders of organizations that support school choice; and President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary DeVos.

“It’s important that we salute the recently reauthorized SOAR Act, which is a lifeline for so many students in Washington, DC,” said Allen. “And it was heartening to hear the President make an unequivocal plea that every child—no matter his status in life—deserves the opportunity to attend a school that best meets his individual needs,” Allen said.

The bottom line: It’s nice to have allies who are committed to an educational renaissance in the nation’s capital.

The Theme is Innovation

This country has been built on innovation and ingenuity. When it comes to American education however, we are far too cautious. For us to succeed as a nation, and for our students to achieve, we need to be vigilant, constantly reevaluating progress and challenging the status-quo, calling into question existing systems and the opinions of the majority.

We need to examine the fundamentals that are the basis for end results; what is the rationale for the existing academic calendar structure and school schedule? We should be calling into question issues such as standards of student-teacher ratio and class size, and examine learning methodology and teacher preparedness—and awareness. Implementing new education technologies in the classroom can help young educators struggling to connect with students innovate in their lessons, understand their role and communicate more effectively in school and beyond. Charter schools and the unique freedom and flexibility they enjoy have brought about enormous leaps in the quality of students’ education, immense rises in academic achievement across the states, and brighter futures for the nation’s most needy children.

Gone are the days when a school in a community would be limited by distance and cost from availing its students of every imaginable lesson that exists in the world to enhance their learning. First and foremost, it requires listening to the students and directing their educational experience in totally new ways – and then talking about it!

Every effort must be made to bring innovative technologies to our schools. The traditional systems of pre-K, K-12 and higher education should not shackle our approach to improving education. Government should prioritize and expand support for innovative education by partnering with agencies that oversee telecommunications and transportation to drive the digital super highway further into rural communities and thus permit them to access the best of

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The Theme is Choice

“School choice” means giving parents the power and opportunity to choose the schools their children attend.

Charter schools are public schools that provide unique educational services to students, or deliver services in ways that the traditional public schools do not offer. They provide an alternative to the cookie-cutter district school model. Charters survive — and succeed — because they operate on the principles of choice, accountability and autonomy not readily found in traditional public schools.

How did charter schools get started?

Long before there were national associations and organizations working to promote the schools, individuals launched the charter movement with strategy and resolve. Charter school pioneers talk about their experiences above.

Today we’re highlighting brilliant videos from charter schools who were the runners-up of CER’s “Hey John Oliver, Back Off My Charter!” Video Contest:

Check out all of the contest entrants’ videos here.

GET INVOLVED. For the movement to grow and meet the demand of parents in need of education alternatives, it’s essential to showcase the hard work charter school leaders and educators are doing day in and day out. Help celebrate #CharterSchoolsWeek by signing and sharing the pledge to support public charter schools!

The Theme is Flexibility

Our public school leaders have been asking for years for government to remove the handcuffs. They welcome and need the ability to change their operations, and drive a new education culture.  People who want to start new schools need freedom and autonomy and they need a level playing field. The barriers to starting a school in some states are too onerous. Some states require that new schools only use “proven concepts” for their curricula or their school model. Others require that teachers have a particular kind of certification or even that they have experience starting up other schools before they can be authorized. Charter schools began as an idea to innovate and to free schools from arcane systems and over-reaching regulations. This school choice option has united people from diverse background and lifestyles who have wanted more personalized and innovative public education to meet students’ needs in ways that traditional public schools often failed to do.  We encourage government to be more flexible and we encourage Charter School advocates to push for charter laws that allow operational freedom, free from top-down compliance and burdensome “one size” fits all approaches which discourage charter schools from starting or expanding.  Flexibility is crucial to innovation and opportunity and the key to continued growth and excellence in charter schools across America.

Today we’re highlighting more videos from charter schools who participated in CER’s “Hey John Oliver, Back Off My Charter!” Video Contest:

Inspiring Minds

Adventurous Schools

Check out all of the contest entrants’ videos here.

A Salute to Charters

We must be vigilant to overcome challenges, including the overreach of regulation that is stifling a vibrant reform effort

May 1, 2017 — We are pleased to join with our colleagues around the country to celebrate National Charter Schools Week, and all those, especially at the community level, who have steadfastly committed time, energy and bold ideas for nearly 26 years. We hope everyone joins us in celebrating the schools, teachers, communities and innovators who have elevated education to new heights of excellence and performance.

The Center for Education Reform is proud to have been a leader in the fight for expanded opportunity for all children since 1993, and to have helped launch NCSW when the movement was just defining itself. This innovative and path breaking reform of public education has been heralded by each Administration since the first charter school opened in 1992.

In his inaugural proclamation of NCSW in 2000, President Clinton declared that charter schools “are helping us to meet many of our Nation’s most important education goals.”


Today, in President Trump’s 2017 Presidential Proclamation, President Trump called upon us all to embrace the choice that charters represent for so many. “By expanding school choice and providing more educational opportunities for every American family, we can help make sure that every child has an equal shot at achieving the American Dream. More choices for our students will make our schools better for everybody.”

Indeed, such choice affords families and educators the opportunity to voluntarily seek the schools that best meet their vision of education. Charter schools succeed when they have independence, flexibility, and freedom to innovate. It is essential we preserve and advance these core principles.

Here’s just but one of thousands of examples of how

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