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Governor Deal Acts to Improve Educational Opportunities for Georgia's Children

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
May 3, 2012

Jeanne Allen, founder and president of the Center for Education Reform, today made the following statement in response to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s signing of pro-charter school bill:

“We are pleased that Governor Deal has signed legislation that will put the Georgia Charter Schools Constitutional Amendment on the ballot this November. The proposed amendment empowers parents to make the right choices for their children.

“As we have learned in state after state, local school boards are often unwilling to authorize new charter schools. States that permit a number of entities to authorize charter schools have seen growth of high quality charter schools, which means more and better options for families seeking a way of out failing schools. This amendment is a critical step, one that we hope will mark a brighter future for education in Georgia.”

For more information, please visit https://edreform.com.

Newswire: May 1, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 18

THE BIG “E”. Yes, it’s all about the economy, but fueling any nation’s economic well-being is a robust education system, the real “Big E,” of the highest quality. Yet, nary a whisper about education during the grueling GOP campaign for president. In one of her columns during primary season, Jeanne Allen urged candidates – and reporters – to pay heed to the Big E. “In every state and community, education reform is the battle cry for those most afflicted by the nation’s 2,000 failing high schools, and for the approximately 70 percent of kids who are not learning at either national or international benchmarks,” she remarked. Allen queried why candidates don’t “seem to recognize, or discuss this. Where are the media pundits on the candidates’ positions on K-12 education? Is it fatigue? Apathy?” Almost as a follow up, Andy Rotherham recently penned his take on the lack of attention to education by the two nominees, President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov Mitt Romney. Party politics is Rotherham’s answer to Allen’s questioning of the brush-off of education. Both candidates have their own political “minefield to walk through,” an aversion to federally led solutions to national education challenges on one hand and the teacher unions on the other. Rotherham and Allen agree that the media “isn’t forcing the conversation,” as it should. For all of you who attend Presidential campaign town hall meetings or are inclined to write an op ed or letter to the editor, demand that both candidates state their goals and role in improving education for all children and that the media pepper each candidate with purposeful questions about this nation’s top issue.

POWER TO LEAD…is one of KIPP’s founding principles and the focus of an Atlantic piece by KIPP co-founder Mike

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Greenville Charter In Demand

“Charter School Grows But Most Students Still Turned Away”
by Gordon Dill
WSPA-TV (News Channel 7)
April 23, 2012

Greenville Tech Charter High School has strict limits on student enrollment, 105 students per grade and 420 in the entire school.

Next year each grade will grow by 5.

But that still means nearly 600 students on the wait list may be turned away.

The school, housed in a building on the same campus as Greenville Tech, produces remarkable results. 100% of the students graduate. 100% of those graduates are accepted to college.

“I don’t think there’s anything that’s right for every student, I think choice is good. It gives kids an option and parents to find what works for them. I think it (the charter school) works for a majority of the kids,” said Principal Fred Crawford.

This October the school will hold open enrollment. Because of the high demand, there will be a random lottery to determine who is accepted.

Pensions at Michigan Charters' Expense

There’s talk in Lansing of trying to tax charter schools to fix the state’s broken retirement system. It’s an idea that won’t work, is unfair, and will devastate Michigan’s charter schools and its employees.

Senate Bill 1040 was introduced in the Michigan Legislature with the goal of revamping the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS). While current language indicates that only charter schools participating in MPSERS in the first place would be affected, there’s talk of forcing all charter schools to fork over money for the pension system.

“Ensuring the system’s survival for future retirees” by taking from charter schools that don’t even participate in the system is outrageous. Some are suggesting taking as much as $1,000 per pupil from charter schools to pay for pensions. Another suggestion is reducing the per-pupil foundation allowance, or the amount that charter schools get paid by the state for each student that attends the school). All the while, charter schools already receive less than traditional public schools.

Stop these ideas from becoming reality by contacting Michigan legislators. Urge them not to fix the pension system on the backs of charter schools, and tell them how this expense would personally impact you and your school.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:

Florida Charters Outperform Traditional Public Schools

The Florida Department of Education released its annual study on charter school achievement comparing charters to conventional public schools. The most recent data (2010-2011 school year) show that in most subgroups, charter schools in Florida are doing better than their conventional counterparts. Some highlights from the report include:

• Six percent of Florida’s public school students are enrolled in charter schools.
• The percent of charter schools receiving a state grade of ‘A’ has increased from 42 percent in 2002-03 to 58 percent in 2010-11.
• More charter schools are receiving an ‘A’ than conventional public schools.
• More charter school students have consistently received a three or higher on the reading portion of the FCAT than their conventional school counterparts.
• Florida charter schools also ranked higher (in terms of how many students got a three or higher on their FCAT) when the study broke down the data into grades and subgroups by race.
• Charter school students outperformed traditional public school students in 50 of the 54 comparisons in this report.

Overall, charters have been improving academically year by year and have taken the lead in most subjects and across most sub-groups. It’s no wonder that charter schools are in high demand throughout the Sunshine State. Click here for the complete list of charter schools in Florida.

Charter Schools and Sausage

by Jeanne Allen
Huffington Post
April 12, 2012

Many people know the old adage, often attributed to Churchill, that the two things one best not see being made are law and sausage. Indeed when it comes to education policy there is no better truism.

Twenty-one years ago when the states first began enacting charter school laws, the intention — and the hope — was that charter schools would begin to serve the millions of students who had long been stuck in failing schools and who, by all accounts today, are still woefully underserved by the traditional public school establishment. Charter schools — public schools free from most rules and regulations that hinder progress and success, open by choice and held accountable for academic results, now number almost 5,700 with nearly 2 million children in attendance. That’s barely 2% of all public school students today, though in Washington the market share is 45% and in Kansas City it’s 35%, a direct correlation between need and demand — and the strength of the charter school laws in some states. And while some laws indeed have opened the way for the proliferation of charter schools, some states’ laws are no more than words on paper.

While most education groups understand that just passing a law is barely half the battle, sadly, the general public is largely unaware that it takes more than an up or down vote to change policy and make good things start happening for kids. And so when parents call us or revolt in their neighborhood over the lack of quality education available to them, many turn a blind eye. Policymakers in particular wonder what all the fuss is about, especially when their state has a charter law. Yes, it’s uncanny but true that most lawmakers don’t know what really happens in practice

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Wyoming getting interest from charter schools

by Bob Moen, Associated Press
Casper Star-Tribune
April 6, 2012

Wyoming is attracting a lot of interest from charter school organizations and needs to improve its charter school law to make sure such schools are of the highest quality, Kari Cline, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Public Charter Schools, said.

“The Wyoming association is getting calls almost on a weekly basis from groups who are interested in opening charter schools in Wyoming,” Cline said.

They are being attracted by the state’s strong financial backing of public schools and the fact that there are only a few charter schools currently operating in the state, she said.

However, Wyoming’s current charter school law makes it difficult to establish charters in the state and at the same time leaves the door open for applications from “questionable organizations trying to start charter schools,” she said.

“We don’t really have great policy in place to ensure that what is coming is the best quality that we can get,” Cline said.

Charters are public schools that typically receive a mixture of public and private money. They operate separately from regular public schools and are free of many regulations that govern traditional public schools in exchange for achieving promised results.

Wyoming has just three operating charter schools — two in Laramie, one in Fort Washakie — and one opening this year in Cheyenne.

National charter school and education reform advocates rate Wyoming’s charter school law as among the worst in the nation because they say the law makes it difficult to open a charter school.

The Center for Education Reform recently gave Wyoming a “D” grade in charter school law.

“Full power to approve charter school applications lies with the school board, which is why to date there are only four charters in the state,” the report said.

A report earlier this year from the

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Opinion: Charter School Boom States

Wall Street Journal
April 5, 2012

The Center for Education Reform president Jeanne Allen on which states support and hinder the expansion of charter schools.

Voucher, Charter Victory in Louisiana

“Louisiana Senate votes to expand vouchers, public charter schools”
by Bill Barrow
Times Picayune
April 4, 2012

The Louisiana Senate handed Gov. Bobby Jindal sweeping victories Wednesday, giving him comfortable margins for his wide-ranging proposals to restructure primary and secondary education in Louisiana.

In a 23-16 vote, which followed a handful of amendments, senators voted to limit teacher tenure and overhaul educators’ compensation, while shifting hiring and firing authority from school boards to superintendents. The upper chamber followed several hours later with a 24-15 vote to expand public charter schools and establish a statewide program that uses the public-school financing formula to pay private-school tuition grants for certain low-income students.

The Senate action sends House Bills 974 and 976 back to the lower chamber, which is expected to approve the Senate versions today and forward them to Jindal, who is certain to sign them with great fanfare.

Should representatives reject the changes, a committee of lawmakers from both chambers would reconcile differences.

The proposals headline an agenda that would put the second-term executive and renewed national GOP player at the forefront of Republican governors who have successfully redefined how their states organize and pay for public education. They will become law barely a month after Jindal unveiled the initial version of the bills, an inarguably swift path for complex ideas that drew interest from large constituencies, from the business lobby and school-choice advocates to state teachers associations.

Senate Education Chairman Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, framed the proposals as necessary and fundamental. “This system has been stuck at the bottom for decades, as long as anyone can remember,” he said. “If this effort saves one child, then these eight hours we’ve spent on these bills … is worth it, every minute.”

Sen. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, said of children in poorly performing schools: “They are desperate for some option.”

‘A slap in the face’

Opponents chided

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Politics Stall Frederick Charter

“Protesters show support for school”
By Brian Englar
Frederick News Post
April 2, 2012

Supporters of a proposed charter school took to the streets Sunday to express their anger over a setback they said is the result of a politically motivated decision by school board members.

More than a dozen protesters stood outside the Frederick Public County Schools administrative building on East South Street to show their support for the Frederick Classical Charter School while holding signs that elicited a number of honks from passing motorists.

On Wednesday, the school board voted against Frederick Classical’s facility plans to build in a new location, making it unlikely that the school will open in the fall as founders had hoped.

School President Tom Neumark said the board that same night gave the go-ahead to another charter school, the Carroll Creek Montessori Charter School. Neumark said that group, unlike his school, hadn’t yet submitted a building permit to the board.

“We think that’s completely unfair,” Neumark said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Neumark said board members cited issues with staffing the school in time, but he said Carroll Creek Montessori is dealing with the same issues. He said Frederick Classical already has 233 applicants for 17 teaching positions and 479 prospective students in the lottery to be admitted.

The school’s original proposed location fell through when officials couldn’t get an eight-year charter. They found a new location in Riverside Technology Park off Gas House Pike, but superintendent Terry Alban recommended the board not allow plans to move forward, citing staffing and budget concerns stemming from founders’ aggressive timeline, which would have the building finished by Aug. 1.

Supporters of the school — which will require Latin and take a history-based approach to other areas of study — claim the decision is a political move by board members afraid of both a different

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