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Statement on Closure of D.C. Public Schools

Another Example of Charter Schools Not Receiving Equal Operational Dollars and Equity in Facilities

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
November 14, 2012

Center for Education Reform Founder and President Jeanne Allen made the following statement regarding the announcement that D.C. Public Schools proposes closing 19 facilities, and not giving the buildings a surplus designation.

“The Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools has gotten a pass from reformers because of her work on teacher evaluations, and for being tough on failure. But even in these she has shown herself more interested in fixing a system than boosting solutions – like charters – that will give children access to any good alternative. In this latest move, she is effectively sitting on buildings that belong to the public, not to the system. It provides yet another example of charter schools in D.C. not receiving equal operational dollars and equity when it comes to facilities, despite a law that explicitly says they should. Equity demands that all public school children share in the pie.

“Ms. Henderson has made it clear that she wants more control over charter schools. In this, the Council, which supports her, is not engaged in fighting for real justice for kids. Whereas the Mayor, the Council, the business community and parents once stood resolved that choice through charters would be an essential element of education in D.C., today they operate to preserve their power, not parent power.

“The recent school closure announcement should have fused the districts corrective action with expanded opportunity for kids. Instead the issues are divided, and so are our leaders.

“I urge the media to look closely at this incident and how it reveals a chasm between the Chancellor and the Council’s rhetoric and their actions. It’s time the Chancellor was asked

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Los Angeles Charter Moratorium Rejected

“LAUSD rejects voluntary moratorium on new charter schools”
by Barbara Jones
Contra Costa Times
November 13, 2012

Following a flood of protests from parents and charter supporters, the Los Angeles Unified board on Tuesday soundly rejected a resolution seeking a voluntary moratorium on new charter applications while a strategic plan is developed to better govern their explosive growth.

Board member Steve Zimmer said he saw the need for an in-depth study of the district’s charter system, which now educates some 110,000 students and has thousands more on waiting lists. He wanted to monitor how well charter schools are educating students and ways to share methods for closing the achievement gap and boosting parental involvement.

“The milestone of 100,000 is a moment in which we should step back and reflect on what is working in our role as (charter) operator and what isn’t,” he said. “We need to have a real strategy and a real plan.”

But parents and charter supporters saw his resolution as a challenge to their right to choose the appropriate school for their child, with speakers sharing personal stories of how charters had changed their lives.

“You shouldn’t just vote against the resolution,” said parent Katrina George, whose handicapped son struggled at a traditional school but thrived once he was enrolled in a charter. “You should do the opposite and open more charters. At the end of the day, this should be about the kids.”

Zimmer’s colleagues said they’d tried to talk him out of pursuing the resolution, and Superintendent John Deasy said it was unnecessary.

“The work can be done without the resolution,” Deasy said.

In the end, Zimmer and board member Bennett Kayser cast the only yes votes for the resolution. Board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte had left during the debate and was not present for the vote.

Zimmer’s original resolution, introduced in September, called

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ED-lection Roundup: Senators

Earlier we pointed out four races worth watching because wins would usher in extremely pro-education reformers to the U.S. Senate.

Two of the four races ended up as “wins” for education reform with victories for Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Ted has a national reputation for defending school choice and parent rights for over a decade, and Jeff is the author of Arizona’s pioneering charter school law and a stalwart supporter of school choice.

Another result that bodes well for education reform is the return of Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.). Carper is a relatively reliable reform vote, at least on charter schools and teacher issues, and has proven to be a friend to reform in Delaware and across the United States.

Wins for Cruz, Flake, and Carper all count as victories for education reform, otherwise, there’s not much in the Senate to report right now. More to come as we watch these folks assemble and start considering what their agendas will be.

ED-lection Roundup: Superintendents

There were a total of five state superintendent races this year across the country and none of the elected leaders are supportive of education reforms, such as charter schools, school choice, or performance pay for teachers.

Two of the winners are incumbents, including June Atkinson in North Carolina, and Randy Dorn who ran unopposed in Washington. Although the superintendent race in Montana is still too close to call, current Superintendent Denise Juneau holds the lead.

North Dakota‘s new choice for State Superintendent, Kristen Baesler, does not appear to be a leader that will push for reforms that will lift the state from its near last rating on the Parent Power Index.

Education reform took a hit with Indiana electing Glenda Ritz as Superintendent of Public Instruction, ousting current Superintendent and reform-champion Tony Bennett. While newly elected governor Mike Pence holds the same pro-reform mindset as outgoing governor Mitch Daniels, there is no doubt many will be watching Indiana to see if the Hoosier State will continue to live up to its reputation as the “reformiest” state given the difference of opinions between the governor and superintendent.

ED-lection Roundup: Reform-Minded Governors

Two new reform-minded governors have joined the other 23 in the United States that support true education reform, such as charter schools, school choice, and performance pay for teachers, according to analysis by CER.

North Carolina was the only state to elect a reform-minded governor after the last governor was decidedly against changing the status quo. In Indiana, governor-elect Mike Pence will hopefully continue on the path started by governor Mitch Daniels, who signed an expansive voucher program into law and improved charter school legislation.

Six of the eleven states holding elections this year voted to keep their current governor in office: Jack Markell in Delaware, Jay Nixon in Missouri, Jack Dalrymple in North Dakota, Gary Herbert in Utah, Peter Shumlin in Vermont, and Earl Ray Tomblin in West Virginia. Only two of these reelected governors are reform-minded according to CER’s criteria.

Incumbents were not up for reelection in New Hampshire or Washington, but New Hampshire elected a governor with the same negative attitude towards education reform as the previous governor. Results in Washington are still pending, but candidate Jay Inslee, who is not a proponent of reform just like outgoing governor Christine Gregoire, holds the lead as of now.

For a list of governors in every state and where each stands on the three key education reform issues go to https://edreform.com/education-50/governor-grades/.

Georgia, Idaho, and Washington Initiatives

Before election day, we reminded people that while education is up for a vote in every state through the candidates they select, Georgia, Idaho, and Washington had initiatives on the ballot that could have major impacts education in each state.

Georgia’s students scored big on Tuesday with a 58% to 42% victory for Amendment One. The Peach State’s ballot initiative on charter schools allows local communities to create more of these important options by amending the state’s constitution to allow other state and local agencies, in addition to local school boards, approve charter schools.

Washington state’s ballot initiative on charter schools is still looking favorable for reformers with a slight lead of 51% for passage. While still not declared a victory, it looks like Initiative 1240 will open up new educational opportunities for families with the creation of 40 new charter schools over the next 5 years. A modest proposal, but it would make Washington the 42nd state to adopt a charter school law and finally bring them into the 21st century of education delivery.

Idaho’s ballot left the fate of three laws, known as the Students Come First laws, up to voters. Unfortunately, the $1.2 million in NEA funding to squash these measures paid off. Voters turned down that reforms that would have paid teachers based on performance, phased out tenure, limited collective-bargaining, and expanded online learning opportunities.

Suggestions to Obama for Refocusing Education Efforts

The Center for Education Reform, the nation’s leading voice for structural and substantive change in education, congratulates President Obama on his reelection. We praised the President in his first term for reminding the nation of our serious problems with K-12 education, and for working energetically to spread the word and seek change. We were concerned the Administration was too beholden to the national teachers unions, and that this support was an impediment to meaningful reforms that could lead to better schools and more educational choices.

We offer the following suggestions for the President in his second term:

Election Results with Implications for Education Reform

This election roundup is courtesy of a special edition of the Policy Innovators in Education (PIE) Network newsletter, “Special Election Issue: Results with implications for education reform .”

Early observations about election results that could have an impact on issues of interest to education reformers:

States with network member groups
ALABAMA: Proposition 4 – Defeated
Prop 4 would have removed antiquated language from the state’s constitution that allowed schools to be segregated. The state’s teachers union opposed the amendment, saying that it didn’t go far enough. 

ARIZONA: Proposition 204Defeated.
The Quality Education and Jobs Act would have provided at least an additional $625 million to K-12 education in the first year through a one-cent sales tax increase and also prevented state lawmakers from cutting school funding.
Proposition 118still too close to call 
The ballot measure meant to stabilize trust land payouts to K-12 education in Arizona remained too close to call at press time. Unofficial returns showed Proposition 118 trailing by about 1 percentage point.

CALIFORNIA: Proposition 30Passed
Prop 30 increases personal income taxes on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years. Governor Brown said rejection would cause huge midyear cuts to K-12 education.
Proposition 32Defeated
This “paycheck protection” measure would have eliminated unions’ primary fundraising tool and deductions from members’ paychecks for political campaigns. It would also have curtailed union and corporate contributions to political candidates.

COLORADO: Denver Ballot Measures 3A & 3B  – Passed
These two measures fund art, music, and physical education classes; more room in early childhood education programs and full-day kindergarten for all students; safer, improved school buildings and learning environments; and 21st century technology in classrooms.

FLORIDA: Amendment 8Defeated
The “Religious Freedom” amendment, if passed, would have removed language from the state’s constitution banning religious institutions (including schools) from receiving taxpayer money.

GEORGIA: Resolution 1162Passed
The constitutional amendment will allow the state to re-establish

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Charters’ Future In Hands of Georgia Voters

“Georgia’s Voters Will Decide on Future of Charter Schools”
by Motoko Rich
New York Times
November 6, 2012

Staff members in the charter school division of the Georgia Department of Education keep notepads in their offices inscribed with a mantra: “Is it best for students? Then do it.”

But when it comes to charter schools, parents, teachers, education officials and legislators are deeply divided over what exactly would be best for students.

Here in Georgia, the future of charters, which are publicly financed but privately operated, could be determined Tuesday by a ballot measure that asks voters to amend the State Constitution so that an appointed statewide commission could authorize new schools.

Along with high-stakes testing and tenure changes, legislative efforts to expand charter schools are among the most contentious issues in education circles. Proponents say charters can experiment with new teaching strategies to help struggling students or those stuck in failing public schools. Detractors say the charters drain precious public money and energy from neighborhood schools.

At issue in Georgia is who should decide whether a charter school can open. Supporters of the amendment say a commission focused exclusively on charters is necessary to override resistant local school boards and ensure that parents have ample educational choices.

“Education is one of the few things in our country that you have no choice,” said Lyn Carden, the board chairwoman of the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation, which operates two charter schools that were initially denied applications by their local school boards.

“You live in this neighborhood, you go to this school,” Ms. Carden said. “For some parents, it works great, but not all schools are right for all kids.”

Critics of the amendment say families already have plenty of choices, including charter schools authorized by local school boards.

“We are not arguing the merits or demerits of charter schools,” said Herb

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The Daniels record: successful innovations

by Andrea Neal
Indianapolis Star
November 5, 2012

(Second of two columns on Gov. Mitch Daniels’ legacy)

Mitch Daniels used his first term to get Indiana’s fiscal house in order. His second term sealed his reputation as the education reform governor.

“Truly historic changes” came to Indiana schools, the American Legislative Exchange Council said in its 2012 Report Card on American Education.

“Indiana moved up into the A’s for the first time after the reform-minded governor and legislature greatly improved the state charter law in 2011,” said the Center for Education Reform Report.

The Weekly Standard, a national journal of conservative thought, credited Daniels for “taking Indiana from the backwaters of education reform in America to the forefront.”

It’s a bit early to claim success. It will be several years before Hoosiers know if reforms instituted by Daniels will boost test scores. ISTEP passage rates are creeping up and graduation rates are higher, but there’s yet to be noticeable improvement on the National Assessment of Education Progress or the SAT.

Daniels took office in 2005, but his first term was consumed with budget balancing and recession, which delayed his educational initiatives until the middle of term two. Once he and School Superintendent Tony Bennett turned their sights on schools, change was fast and furious:

Collective bargaining with teachers unions was limited to wages and benefits, which means schools can pursue their own reform ideas, such as longer school days.

Teacher pay raises are now based on many factors, including student test scores, as well as the previous criteria of seniority and education. Teachers rated as ineffective can’t receive a pay increase.

The State Board of Education uses letter grades — A to F — to judge school quality instead of vague labels like commendable and academic progress. The new system take into account test scores, score improvement, graduation rates and

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