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The Top 10 states for educational options; Arizona 6th

by Angela Gonzales
Arizona Business Journal
April 15, 2013

Arizona ranked sixth on The Center for Education Reform’s Parent Power Index, which means parents have access to quality education options and are provided with good information to make smart decisions about their children’s education.

The states were ranked on prevalence of charter schools, school choice, teacher quality, transparency and access to data, online learning, pro-reform governors and parent trigger laws, where parents have an opportunity to turn around failing schools.

The rankings pointed to Arizona’s scholarship program for students with disabilities and a tax credit that has helped more than 30,000 students opt into new schools. In addition, Arizona’s charter school law has provided more than 200,000 children with choices about their schooling.

Click here to see the top 10 states in The Center for Education Reform’s Parent Power Index.

Here are more specifics on Arizona from the index:

72%: Arizona’s graduation rate
1539: Average SAT test score
19.7: Average ACT score
33%: 4th grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math score
31%: 8th grade NAEP math score
26%: 4th grade NAEP reading score
$8,006: Per pupil funding
1,077,831: Public school enrollment

Posing as Reform in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State Rep. James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia) is not an honest broker. With more than $50,000 in contributions each year from the city’s teachers unions, the public should know that the reform bill he is backing for charter schools is about destroying, not reforming; about raising up the status quo, not real reform of our schools.

His reports and allegations, of widespread problems in charter schools across the state, are misleading and plain wrong. For example, he alleges that most charter boards have conflicts of interest with those with whom they work or depend for services. But that would also suggest that the largest employer in the school system is riddled with conflicts. Who isn’t related to a teacher or a child or a board member or a vendor in any district? Everyone with a pulse has overlapping interests. The only time it’s a conflict is when their views and their work is at odds with what’s good for kids.

Conflict of interest is code for keep charter schools small and insignificant. Demands from opponents for accountability is code for shut them down.

The charters are efficient, effective, albeit underfunded public schools that are oversubscribed and, in most cases, achieving above and beyond the traditional public schools.

Why would you try to save money on schools that are already underfunded and over subscribed? Why not save money on schools that are failing on a system that has a larger administrator/adult -student ratio than most comparable districts?

Philadelphia District:
15-to-1 teachers to students
655 administrators making over $100,000/dollars a year! (100 of who are teachers)
2980 in total all education administrators — Average salary is $104K

There are about 150,000 students in district public schools – 50 students for every administrator! A charter school survives with half as many administrators – an average of 100 kids for every administrator!

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Newswire: March 19, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 11

THE MAINE EVENT. Earlier this year, Governor Paul LePage expressed his outrage that Maine’s “school systems are failing.” And when the newly-created Charter School Commission rejected four out of five charter applications he called on “…those people, if they’re afraid to do the job, if they can’t put students first, then they ought to resign.” Vowing to go back to square one on reform efforts, the Governor jumping back in the ring to convene a conference this Friday, March 22. The conference will feature sessions on best practices from across the country like Florida’s school performance grading system, school choice, and stretching education dollars. CER President Jeanne Allen, will lead a panel discussion on “Multiple Pathways to Success.”

BATTLE IN THE BAYOU. Today, parents, students, educators and reformers rallied before the Louisiana Supreme Court to defend the Louisiana Scholarship Program. Over 4,500 students across the state benefit from the program which provides scholarships to qualifying students enrolled in underperforming and failing schools, to attend schools of their choice. Former DC Councilman, attorney, advocate, and CER board member Kevin P. Chavous addressed the masses today and said, “I know justice, and it is absolutely criminal to snatch away opportunity from children.” The debate is heating up and attorneys brought their arguments for a showdown today with oral ammunition before the state’s Supreme Court. A ruling on the appeal is not expected for several weeks.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY. As Newswire reported last week, a charter school proposal must still be negotiated in joint House-Senate conference committees. As it stands now, “Mississippi has yet to open the book on what charter schools can really do for the whole of education across the state. Not only is this not significant in any

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Newswire: March 12, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 10

RACISM & GREED? Should our public services be used for people who really need them? Aren’t prisons a place for criminals who defiantly break the law? And how exactly does intentionally breaking the law help children understand the importance of schooling? These and more questions are on our minds as we ponder the actions by President of the AFT union Randi Weingarten this past Thursday, who, upon her arrival in Philadelphia to protest the closing of 23 FAILING (yes that was caps intentionally) schools got herself arrested. Make no mistake — this was planned. Anyone with a big time PR shop like the AFT has doesn’t do these things without much consideration. You could just see her — boarding the plane, arriving in Philly, taking her car to the site, getting poised to protest and WHAM, standing in front of the door to the School Reform Commission meeting just to be carried away to the Klink, the pen – prison! The cheering and hizzahs were incredible, thanks to the adult members of the union who joined her. “This is about Racism and Greed” one sign said. Actually — he’s half right. It’s about the not so subtle racism that pervades a system that makes someone want to keep a bad school open and keep poor kids of color from getting a good education and it’s about the greed of the unions who just can’t let it go.

BABIES TO THE CORE. Those cute little kindergartens we all like to fawn over are apparently getting the shaft in schools that have already started implementing the Common Core standards for young children. It’s not intentional, as Harlem Village Academies Founder & Author (and CER 2006 Honoree) Deborah Kenny writes in a fabulous op-ed. It’s that teaching

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Study: Charter school students learning more

by Celeste Bott
South Bend Tribune
March 11, 2013

An average Michigan charter school student will learn more in a year than his or her public school peer, according to a new report by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes.

The study found that students from Michigan charter schools learn an average of two month’s more of math and reading per academic year.

Twenty-seven percent of the state’s charter school students are from Detroit, and Detroit charter school students gained up to three months’ worth of additional education, it said.

Charter schools are publicly funded but can be privately run. They were established in part so that individual schools could have more independence over curriculum and teaching staff.

Margaret Raymond, director of the center, praised Michigan’s charter school practices, especially given problems that districts like Detroit face.

“These findings show that Michigan has set policies for charter schools to produce consistent high quality across the state,” Raymond said. “The results are especially welcome for students in communities that face significant education challenges.”

It is the center’s first in-depth study of charter schools in the state. A total of 85,650 students attend 276 charters in the state. For the study, 61 schools were too small to be analyzed, resulting in a total study sample of 212 charters.

Not all of the findings were favorable to the alternative public schools, however.

For example, 14 percent of Michigan charter schools showed below average growth and achievement, and 25 percent of students perform below average in math.

Devora Davis, a co-author of the report, attributed those conflicting numbers to the use of averages — there are both struggling charters and high-performing charters that distort the data.

The poor performances are offset by the growing proportion of charters with high-level achievement, Davis said.

“Should these trends continue, the share of schools which currently lag

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New Front in Charter Schools

by Jennifer Levitz
Wall Street Journal
March 11, 2013

While other states also have weighed lifting caps, charter advocates point to left-leaning Massachusetts as a somewhat unlikely model for the movement. “This demonstrates that charter schools are a viable reform,” said Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a nonprofit aimed at advancing the movement. “If it can happen in Massachusetts, it can happen anywhere.”

Charter schools receive public funding but, unlike public schools, employ mostly nonunion teachers and have autonomy in school districts, which allows them to set their own conditions, such as longer school days. They have long been embraced by Republicans for introducing choice in education, but have been assailed by some teacher unions and others as hurting traditional public schools.

The Massachusetts legislation to end the cap was proposed by Democrats, state Sen. Barry Finegold and Rep. Russell Holmes. It would abolish all caps on charter schools and charter-school spending in 29 low-performing school districts, including Boston.

The 107,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association is likely to oppose the bill, said union president Paul Toner. Under state law, schools’ funding is linked to the number of attending students, so charter schools divert much-needed funds from traditional schools, he said.

While some say capping the number of charter schools controls the quality of education, others say the caps are arbitrary and limit opportunity. Nationally, about 20 states have laws limiting the expansion of charter schools, according to the Center for Education Reform, a group that advocates for charter schools. Hawaii, Idaho and Missouri lifted caps last year.

Massachusetts’ current limit on charter schools statewide is 120, with 76 now in operation. State law also caps districts’ net school spending on charter tuition to 18% in underperforming districts and 9% in others. Statewide, charter groups say there are 45,000 applicants on

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University Academy Tour in Missouri

March 7, 2013

Stephanie Heishman, CER’s senior development director, was in Kansas City on Monday and had the opportunity to tour University Academy, a Kansas City K-12 college prep charter school that serves approximately 1,000 students.

The mission of University Academy is to prepare students to succeed in an institution of higher education and to become leaders in society. The vision of University Academy is to be the best K-12 college-preparatory charter public school in the country, with an emphasis on college preparation, career development, community service and leadership.

All grade levels attend classes in the same building, teachers are masters in their content and each teacher’s classroom is identified by their university or college alma mater- giving students a clear focus on the importance of getting into and completing college.

At the entrance of the school is the “Wall of Honor,” showcasing University Academy graduates and the university or college they are attending.

Kudos to University Academy for all the work they are doing to uphold their mission and vision of providing kids a quality education that will prepare them for life after K-12 schooling.


First Fridays: Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School

March 1, 2013

First Fridays, a monthly charter school tour event sponsored by CityBridge Foundation, FOCUS and Charter Board Partners, gives people in the DC metro area a chance to see some truly amazing schools at work. Today, our VP of Research, Alison Consoletti, with 25 other choice supporters, checked out Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, an elementary Chinese language immersion school.

This school, opened in 2008, now serves 439 students in grades PreK-5. While walking through the school halls, the 5th grade student tour guide explained how all subjects – even Chemistry – are taught in both English and Chinese.

Our group got to sit in on a PreK class, where 100% of their school day is taught in Chinese. Students from all walks of life were singing and acting out songs in Chinese, while also learning what the characters meant. It was truly a sight to see.

Since Yu Ying has been open, the school has performed stellar academically, and today is rated Tier 1 Status, according to DCPCSB’s Performance Management Framework.

There were over 700 applications for just 70 spots this last year. And because demand for a challenging immersion program is so high, Yu Ying is working with other immersion charter schools in DC to create DC International, a middle and high-school that would offer International Baccalaureate and continued foreign language instruction.

We can’t wait to see what school First Fridays is going to take us to next!


A Pretty Good Sales Pitch For MA Charter Schools

March 1, 2013

In a follow-up to their initial 2009 report on the Bay State, CREDO has released its latest Charter School Performance Report on Massachusetts, a six year study that analyzes the effectiveness of Massachusetts’s charter schools and in particular, their performance in the Boston area.

The report was largely positive on both math and reading tests, notably when comparing Boston charter schools to their public school counterparts. When analyzing just Beantown charters, the report found that 83 percent had significantly positive learning gains in both reading and math and no city charters were performing lower than the local public schools. That’s a pretty good sales pitch for charter schools in Massachusetts.

For a little more background on CER’s long history with CREDO and our concerns with their methodology, which they use in this report, here’s a link to help you out: a little intro to CREDO.


Why Truly Independent and Multiple Authorizers Are Important

February 28, 2013

It’s not surprising that Louisiana’s charter school authority expansion fell flat in its first year.

Louisiana’s experience is proof that not all efforts to improve laws are created equal. Strong charter school laws do not require new groups to apply to become authorizers. It is actually a disincentive to do so.

Strong laws permit universities and other publicly accountable non-education entities to become authorizers without asking permission and hold them accountable for the outcomes of their schools. That’s because the purpose of independent and multiple authorizers is to establish new pathways for school creation and oversight separate from existing state and local education agencies.

States that allow for truly independent authorizers, granted by law to operate with unbridled freedom, yield greater charter school growth and quality.


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