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DC Charters In High Demand

“More than 17,000 names on D.C. charter school waiting lists”
by Lisa Gartner
Washington Examiner
June 25, 2012

Students on the waiting list for admission to E.L. Haynes Public Charter School’s earliest grades are in good company — if more than 3,000 children count as “company” rather than Disney World on a sunny day.

Waiting lists for the city’s public charter schools are running a total 17,396 names deep, according to the D.C. Public Charter School Board. That’s 51 percent of the total number of students successfully enrolling in the city’s public charter schools in the fall, or 33,699 children. This year, 31,562 students attended charter schools, while 45,630 attended DC Public Schools.

“These numbers are a powerful indicator of D.C. families’ demand for more quality school options,” said Scott Pearson, executive director of the Charter School Board. “We realize there is a large gap between that demand and available slots, and we remain committed to … transforming public education so that more D.C. children can attend the school of their choice.”

Students were able to add their names to multiple schools’ waiting lists, meaning fewer than 17,000 youths are likely waiting for admission. A spokeswoman for the charter school board said she did not know how many unique names are on waiting lists. This is the first year the charter board has compiled the data.

While some charter schools still have open seats after the citywide admissions lottery, 32 of 98 campuses have more than 100 students on their waiting lists. After accepting its 2012-2013 batch of students, E.L. Haynes’ preschool-second grade campus in Petworth still has 2,927 children waiting. An additional 1,240 are waiting at its campus for grades three through eight, and 652 are waiting for the charter’s high school.

Two Rivers Public Charter School and Capital City Public Charter School both have campuses

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Newswire: June 26, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 26

ALL IS NOT WELL. Delusion is rampant among the status quo when it comes to the state of American education. In Idaho, they fought to get on the November ballot three referenda that, if passed, will annihilate Superintendent Tom Luna’s sweeping reform efforts that could bring about a quality education for all students in the state. As the Wall Street Journal aptly notes, a state like Idaho doesn’t fit the “familiar education narrative of inner-city hopelessness. “That’s where the delusion kicks in. CER’s Jeanne Allen compares Idaho’s attempt to block reform to the Lake Wobegon effect. “In states like this, the assumption is all is well. The reality is they’ve been simply going through the motions for years, and the result is a kind of Third World education status. “Incredibly, after international report after international report, some in Idaho continue to believe in the myth of their grand success. For a reality test, read the Atlantic on Stanford economist Eric Hanushek and colleagues’ study.

NEW JERSEY’S OPPORTUNITY. E3, and others, are pushing for passage of the New Jersey Opportunity Scholarship Act, a pilot corporate tax credit bill designed to fund scholarships for low-income students attending the state’s lowest performing and chronically failing public schools. The battle is furious and your support is needed now so students can quickly transfer from dysfunctional schools to ones that will put them on track to a successful future in college and the world of work. New Jersey can redeem itself by passing this bill after bowing to status quo pressure and sidestepping seniority reform.

LYNCH’S LOSER MOVE. Muttering something about how New Hampshire’s voucher bill would be available to families regardless of their income, Governor Lynch vetoes the bill. Apparently someone actually read the bill and a few

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GAO report: Charter schools underserve special needs students

by Dave Murray
Grand Rapids Press
June 21, 2012

Charter schools serve fewer special education students than traditional schools according to a Government Accountability Office, though Michigan educators said countywide, specialized programs and parental choices likely make for the difference.

The federal report released this week indicated that about 8 percent of the students in charter schools nationally are disabled or require special services. That’s compared to 11 percent of the students in traditional schools. Data is from the 2009-2010 school year.

The GAO recommends that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan “take measures to help charter schools recognize practices that may affect enrollment of students with disabilities” by updating existing directives and researching why the levels are different.

But the leader of a school choice advocacy group said the GAO’s report is incomplete and flawed. Allen noted that there are 5,700 charter schools in the country and GAO staff visited 13.

“GAO’s attempt to draw conclusions about enrollment of students with special needs in charter schools was a waste of resources,” said Jeanne Allen, president of The Center for Education Reform, in a release.

“The GAO report, by the agency’s own admission, fails to meet fundamental and rudimentary research standards. It is based wholly on anecdotal snapshots of a limited number of schools and states.”

The federal agency indicated it prepared the report after being asked about the enrollment differences, how charter schools reach out the students with disabilities and what services the schools provide.

The GAO also considered the role federal and state education departments play in overseeing the schools and their special needs programs.

“Charter schools enrolled a lower percentage of students with disabilities than traditional districts, but little is known about the factors contributed to these differences,” the report reads.

The report considers that charter schools are schools of choice, and it’s possible that parents of disabled

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Statement on Charter School Achievement

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
June 19, 2012

CER President Jeanne Allen made the following statement about a story on charter schools that aired on Minnesota Public Radio:

A story on Minnesota Public Radio gives us a taste of what is to come this week as the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools meets in Minneapolis.

If past is prologue, we will see many more stories citing “studies” that show “mixed results” on charter school performance.

While Minnesota Public Radio doesn’t offer a citation for the study purporting to analyze charter schools on a national basis, we can guess. It’s the CREDO study, which continues to be trotted out by the media despite its unsound methodology. It’s like a bad penny!

Here is a resource that debunks the methodology used in the CREDO study. The study is not remotely “national.” It examined fifteen states, whereas charters are in forty-one states plus the District of Columbia. But that’s only the first problem. The reason no one else has tried to do a real national study is that it cannot be done. There is no way to do apples to apples comparisons across state lines, so no one else has pretended to try.

The only way to truly measure charter school performance is at the state level. And in study after study, where apples are measured against apples and oranges against oranges, we see charter schools consistently outperforming traditional public schools.

And when they do not? That brings up another issue raised in the Minnesota Public Radio story, one that is often used as a data point against charter schools: closures. But this makes no sense. The closure of a charter school proves the accountability measures built into the system for charter schools are working.

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Newswire: June 12, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 24

CORBETT’S CRUSADE? Many are asking the big question- how is it that a candidate who ran and won on making school reform his first priority hasn’t been successful in achieving real reform since he’s taken office? Meanwhile, the Governor has weighed in on the debate on online schooling, criticizing the notion that online schools should be well-enough funded to provide choices that hundreds of parents use and demand. For almost 18 straight months the Corbett team has permitted the Republican House to ignore SB 1, a pathbreaking school choice bill that passed last year. Then, an effort to improve the state’s charter law to incorporate higher education in authorizing has been stalled by the status quo supporting school districts. The Governor is now taking aim at cyber charters as if cutting their funds will close the state budget gap. As Governor Corbett himself said at a school choice forum during the campaign, good education is the key to economic solvency. The Pennsylvania House adjourns June 30 but there is still time to do a real reform package, if the will is there.

“TEAR DOWN THIS WALL.” Today is the anniversary of the famous Reagan challenge to Gorbachev at the Bradenberg Gate, calling on the Russian leader to destroy the Berlin Wall that separated a country and kept half in abysmal conditions. How fitting that a similar wall holds back kids in the U.S. from social justice parity and, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, stands as tall and solid as it was when many who were elected and promised to fight the status quo two years ago.

SWIFT BOAT OF REFORM. With far too many schools drowning academically, especially in Detroit, no wonder parent trigger is winding its way through the Michigan Legislature in order to make

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Public school in rural Idaho touts patriotic focus

by Jessie L Bonner
Associated Press
June 1, 2012

At North Valley Academy in the heart of Idaho’s dairy country, a typical school day might seem like an over-the-top Fourth of July celebration elsewhere.

The public charter school in Gooding touts itself as a “patriotic” choice for parents, with a focus on individual freedoms and free market capitalism. “We teach something about patriotism every single day,” said principal Cheri Vitek. “Every day in their classroom (students are) singing `proud to be an American’ and if they’re not singing `proud to be an American,’ they’re singing another song about America.”

True enough. On this day, neat rows of students wearing their red, white and blue uniforms belted out “God bless the USA” in the school cafeteria.

North Valley Academy’s patriotism emphasis is a first for Idaho, but a number of charter schools nationally focus on similar concepts, said Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, a Washington, D.C.-based school choice advocate. The schools may not all present or teach in the same way, Allen said, but many “believe traditional schools have neglected teaching the importance of our nation’s history, its free-market system.”

North Valley Academy includes K-12th grades and was approved by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission in 2008. It opened amid some outcry from Gooding’s traditional public school system, but not because of the new school’s curriculum.

The local district lost roughly 10 percent of its total enrollment to the new charter school that first year – along with the funding that went with it – and the town of about 3,500 suddenly had two groups of students: Those who wear uniforms and those who don’t.

Far from being deterred by any sense of divide, school founder Deby Infanger is planning a second patriotic-themed charter school in Idaho Falls, which has support from Mormon

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Newswire: May 22, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 21

A PIONEER FOR CHARTERS…that’s former Michigan Governor John Engler, who recently was honored by Central Michigan University’s renaming of their charter school center after him. Engler has never sat on the sidelines of reform. It never bothered him to ruffle feathers to put students front and center in school improvement. And, he challenged anyone, including the state’s powerful unions at the time who built barricades to thwart reform. Engler did all this not today, when the political environment is more conducive to reform. He was in the vanguard in the 1990s and put charter schools and other reform measures that highlighted the needs of children above all else. CER’s Jeanne Allen spoke at the dedication ceremonies, stressing how Engler’s accomplishments in Michigan, which went beyond charters, spread nationwide. Says Allen: He “pioneered a movement for student-centered funding and transparency for results. His commitment to that idea paved the way for one of the most successful and respected university authorizers in the nation to blossom and has resulted not only in an environment rich in choice and accountability here, but replication of strong charter laws modeled on Michigan’s around the country. It is fitting that his name will be on this center, the gold standard in university authorizers of charter schools.”

LIKE THEIR THINKING. The Washington Post upped themselves in their support for charter schools in a recent editorial by Fred Hiatt. Stating the very rational conclusion that, yes, teachers can be evaluated despite “hard-to-quantify variables,” just like other professions, Hiatt offers an even better way to “sidestep” critics – simply bypass the bureaucracy and go charter. Giving the principal real power to hire and fire staff, as well as make other key decisions for the school, unties the hands of educators to do what

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Newswire: May 15, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 20

BORN TO RISE…is the name of Deborah Kenny’s new book about her journey to open a charter school, which now has grown into the renowned charter network, Harlem Village Academies. Kenny promotes a unique take on what makes a school work – culture and people. Creating an environment where people want to come to work coupled with hiring smart teachers and, then, empowering them to do their job without bureaucratic or union chains to weigh them down and guarded by strong accountability standards are her keys to success. Visit
Edspresso
for more on Kenny’s journey of what it takes to open the doors of opportunity to deserving kids and what John Legend has to do with the title of the book!

CHOICE OUTSIDE THE CITY. Charter schools in Illinois are centered in Chicago, with only 14 serving students in all of suburban and downstate areas. In “Unchartered Territory,” the Illinois Policy Institute chronicles the lack of options for families outside the city and speaks to the demand for all children to have excellent educational options. In a nutshell, they blame the authorization process for this failure and call for abolishing the charter cap for all of Illinois, equalizing funding for charters statewide, and more.

DATA DAMAGE. Imagine the surprise of Nevada’s Green Valley High School principal when he reads in U.S. News & World Report that his school has 477 students and is ranked 13 out of thousands of high schools nationwide. The reality? Green Valley has nearly 3,000 students and isn’t doing quite that well. The problem was inaccurately punched-in data by a consultant who is now working in another state. Learn more about why the trickle effect of this error is a travesty for accountability in Edspresso.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE. Nearly 80%

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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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GA Governor Signs Charter Bill

“Deal signs HB 797 at Cherokee school”
by Megan Thornton
Marietta Daily Journal

Charter school supporters gave the governor an enthusiastic welcome Thursday when he stopped in Cherokee County to sign charter school funding legislation into law.

Gov. Nathan Deal made an appearance at Cherokee Charter Academy to sign House Bill 797, which was passed by the General Assembly this year.

Cherokee Charter Academy, along with a several other charter schools throughout the state, secured funding from Gov. Deal, which allowed the school to open its doors for the 2011-12 school year.

Deal is expected to provide $8 million funding once again to help charter schools next fall.

For his efforts, Deal was given the 2012 Champion for Charters Award at the bill-signing ceremony from a national charter schools group.

A crowd of about 50 legislators and charter school supporters were on hand to witness the bill’s signing.

U.S. Congressman Tom Price (R-Roswell), state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock), state Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock), state Rep. Sean Jerguson (R-Holly Springs), state Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Hickory Flat), Board of Education members Michael Geist and Kim Cochran, and Post 1 school board candidate Kelly Marlow were all in attendance for the bill signing.

Despite the large crowd, many in the community and at the state level have opposed the constitutional amendment. Just last month after heated debate, the Cherokee County Board of Education approved a resolution, 4-2, at its April 19 meeting denouncing the measure and urging voters to reject the amendment.

When plans for Cherokee Charter Academy went before the school board last year, the proposed school was met with a firestorm of protest from local parents, teachers and administrators.

The proposal was turned down three times by the local board, and finally opened without local funding.

HB 797 provides for the establishment of a state charter schools commission and for

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