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GA Charter Resolution Passes

“Senate passes charter schools amendment resolution”
By Wayne Washington
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
March 19, 2012

The full-court press legislators endured during the charter schools battle in the General Assembly now moves to voters, who this fall will get their chance to determine how much authority the state should have to approve and fund charter schools.

Expect to hear about charter schools on television. Expect to hear about them on radio. And there probably will be fliers, too.

After the Senate passed a resolution sending the constitutional amendment to voters Monday, Tony Roberts, president and chief executive officer of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, noted that constitutional amendment campaigns in Georgia have cost anywhere from $5 million to $10 million.

But Roberts was quick to point out that his association is not likely to have that much money for a campaign. It won’t be for a lack of effort, though.

“We’re going to turn our attention to educating the public about how this will help students and parents,” said Roberts, adding that his association will be soliciting bids from firms that can help with the campaign.

Republicans in the General Assembly have made that argument for weeks, saying a constitutional amendment was needed to counter a decision from the Supreme Court, which ruled in May that the state could not force local school districts to pay for charter schools they did not authorize.

That ruling all but killed the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, which had approved applications for charter schools that were turned down by local school districts. Charter schools authorized by the commission had, before the court ruling, been eligible for local district money. It meant 16 schools attended by thousands of students were denied more than $8 million in funding.

Democrats and many traditional school supporters praised the ruling as a necessary re-affirmation of local control over public schools.

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Just the FAQs—Charter Schools

The following are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding charter schools and what they mean for students, educators, schools and communities. The answers to these FAQs are intended to provide only an introductory overview of key issues. Links are provided to take you to areas with additional information.


What is a charter school? Stat_school_final

Charter schools are…

• innovative public schools;

• designed by educators, parents, or civic leaders;

• open and attended by choice;

• free from most rules and regulations governing conventional public schools;

• and, accountable for results.


Where Can I Find Charter Schools?

Go to the National Charter School Directory for a complete searchable listing of charter schools around the nation.


How Do Charter Schools Differ from Traditional District Public Schools? 

Charter schools operate on three basic principles:

Choice: Charter schools give families an opportunity to pick the school most suitable for their child’s educational well-being. Teachers choose to create and work at schools where they can directly shape the learning environment for their students and themselves in innovative ways. Likewise, charter authorizers choose to sponsor schools that are likely to best serve the needs of the students in a particular community.

Accountability: Charter schools are judged on how well they meet the student achievement goals established by their charter contracts. Charter schools must also show that they can perform up to rigorous fiscal and managerial standards. If a charter school cannot perform up to the established standards, it will be closed. 
Check out CER’s State of Charter Schools for more.

Freedom: While charter schools must adhere to the same major laws and regulations as all other public schools,

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Charter Cap Lift Bill Faces Tough Senate Floor Vote

For the past few years, Idaho senators have stood in the way of removing a statewide cap on the number of charter schools created each year.

It looks like that barrier has been partially broken, but one more test remains to eliminate the cap. Read More…

Charter Deadline Limits Potential Openings for Fall 2012

The Maine Charter School Commission has given itself a July 1 deadline to decide whether to approve proposals for charter schools.

That deadline leaves any group that plans to a start a school this September with only 60 days to recruit students, hire teachers and prepare classrooms.

As a result, only one or two schools will be able to open in Maine in 2012, said Commissioner Donald Mordecai, speaking before about 50 people at Deering High School on Monday. Read More…

Enrolled Students' Future Unclear

“Gardner decision being appealed as students enroll”
by Sarah Hofius Hall
Scranton Times-Tribune
March 5, 2012

The Howard Gardner School for Discovery is now accepting applications for the fall, for its first year as a charter school.

But the school’s future is not entirely clear, as officials from the Scranton and Abington Heights school districts have appealed a state decision that grants the school its charter.

After both districts denied the now-private school’s charter application last year, the state’s Charter Appeals Board reversed those decisions in the fall, and the parties received the official written decision from the board last month.

Now the Commonwealth Court will review the state’s decision, Scranton solicitor John Minora said. Scranton has also requested a stay, which would prohibit the school from opening until the case is resolved. The court would have to make that decision.

As of Friday afternoon, the state had not received notice of the appeals. Unless a stay is granted, the school can open as scheduled, said Timothy Eller, spokesman for the state Department of Education.

Charter schools are self-managed public schools that must either be approved by public school districts or by the state under an appeal. The schools are free for students to attend, and districts must pay tuition to charter schools if their students opt to enroll.

Abington Heights Superintendent Michael Mahon, Ph.D., said the district’s attorneys have also found merit in launching an appeal.

As the appeals make it through the court system, the school is going to continue to accept applications, said Vincent Rizzo, director of the school.

Between re-enrolling current students and enrolling children whose parents are on the school’s founder’s list, the school is already near capacity, Mr. Rizzo said.

Three children are on a waiting list, but depending on the grade level, spots may be available. Applications are now being accepted through the

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Charter schools backers say new approach needed

by Marquita Brown
Jackson Clarion Ledger
March 3, 2012

While state lawmakers debate how best to make allowances for charter schools in Mississippi, some people are still questioning why traditional public schools can’t be given the same freedoms.

It’s a question Tracie James-Wade asked Friday during a forum on charter schools at Koinonia Coffee House in Jackson.

James-Wade said her concern is the cost of opening charter schools in an already cash-strapped public school system. The traditional public schools that are performing well should be used as models for duplication across the state, she said.

“Why have a model school that you never duplicate?” James-Wade asked.

But charter school supporters argue traditional public schools have had decades to figure out what works best to boost student achievement.

“The problem is how we operate schools, and that is what charters are one solution to,” Jeanne Allen, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Education Reform, told The Clarion-Ledger last week.

The differences between charter schools and traditional public schools, she said, include how teachers are hired, retained and paid and how textbooks are chosen. All the money and time can be put into the traditional public school system, “but nothing very good happens in that school, nothing changes in that school.”

Like traditional schools, public charter schools do not charge tuition. Charters can be newly formed schools or they can be converted from existing public schools. Both bills getting most attention at the state Capitol include provisions for conversion schools, and lawmakers supporting those bills have said they hope that is the option most charter applicants take.

Charter school advocates say one major selling point is freedom from bureaucracy. Each school operates independently instead of being governed by a central office of administrators.

State representatives still need to take up House Bill 888, which would allow charter schools across the

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9 NC Charters Approved

“NC school board OKs fall open for 9 new charters”
by Emery P. Dalesio, Associated Press
WWAY NewsChannel 3

Nine new charter schools are headed for August openings, the first since North Carolina lawmakers removed a 100-school statewide limit last year.

The State Board of Education approved the schools Thursday despite concerns that not enough was known about the impact the new charters could have on racial diversity and the ability of school districts to repay money borrowed for construction.

“There’s just a lot of financial issues,” school board member and state Treasurer Janet Cowell. She is responsible for protecting the state’s good credit rating and heads a commission examining the ability of other public bodies to repay borrowed money.

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that get their funding from taxpayers but operate with fewer of the regulations facing traditional public schools.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Martin, Durham, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school districts complained that the schools planning to open in their districts would draw away funding and alter the racial balance of existing schools.

While the schools were almost unanimously approved, the discussion again framed the differences over charter schools. Advocates say charters create education options for parents while critics say they set back public education by siphoning off funding and students with the most engaged parents.

“I’m not sure how long we can continue to fund two separate public school systems,” said school board member Jean Woolard of Plymouth. “It looks like we’re going down that slippery slope.”

Board Chairman Bill Harrison noted that the public school establishment and charter school advocates have often seen themselves as adversaries, but with the number of charters likely to multiply it’s time for that to end.

“We’re in a new day, and charter schools are part of the public school landscape. I don’t want us to forget charter schools are public

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Charter schools funding hot issue

“Charter schools funding hot issue”
by Marquita Brown
Jackson Clarion Ledger
February 29, 2012

As state lawmakers work to relax requirements for opening charter schools in Mississippi, the unanswered question is can the state afford both or will it leave both underfunded.

Today, the House Education Committee will take up House Bill 888, which includes broader allowances for charter schools. Last week, the Senate passed SB 2401 that would allow charter schools in every Mississippi school district with some restrictions.

If a district has enough demand for a charter school, the state and local dollars should follow the child, said John Moore, chairman of the House Education Committee and principal author of HB 888.

The problem with the argument that scarce resources would be spread over a larger group of students is “you’re not increasing the number of kids,” said Moore, R-Brandon.

Critics of those groups are no longer in a fixed group. Most charter schools cap their enrollment, meaning some students who might have wanted to attend the new school can’t and would likely remain in traditional public schools, which would then be operating with less money.

“Mississippi has very scarce resources. We can’t afford to fund schools at the level that most people would acknowledge they need to be funded,” said Nancy Loome, executive director of the Parents’ Campaign. That’s also true for other public service agencies, she said.

Loome, who heads a network of more than 60,000 people, said she has heard from parents of students in home schools and in private schools who are interested in charter schools. Adding more students to the mix leads to less funding for all students and a less efficient use of resources, she said.

Superintendents of traditional public schools have said they increased class sizes, postponed building maintenance, made due with outdated textbooks, cut central office staff and,

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Exploring City's Power to Authorize Charters

Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Chancellor Kaya Henderson are discussing a plan to restore the District’s power to create public charter schools as part of an effort to raise the quality of education in low-income communities.

The measure, if adopted, could accelerate the robust growth of publicly funded, independently operated schools that serve 41 percent of the city’s 77,000 students across 98 campuses. Read More…

Charter schools grow in Prince George’s County

by Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post
February 21, 2012

Over the past few years, Prince George’s County has quietly amassed the largest cluster of charter schools in the Washington suburbs.

Three of the independently run, publicly funded schools opened this school year in Prince George’s, bringing the county’s total to seven. That is the highest concentration in Maryland outside of Baltimore. The growth is a sign that charter schools are a key component in School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.’s efforts to expand the county’s menu of education options.

“I support the expansion of quality schools, that’s regardless of the type of school,” Hite said. “It’s all about more choices for our parents.”

Although the charter sector is booming in the District, there are no charter schools inNorthern VirginiaMontgomery County approved one last year, but it has yet to open. And a few charter schools are scattered in Frederick, Anne Arundel and St. Mary’s counties.

Hite, meanwhile, is scouting for more.

One of the latest additions to the Prince George’s cadre of charters is Chesapeake Math & IT Academy in Laurel.

At Chesapeake, housed in a nondescript office park building off Interstate 95, students gather in classes of 25. One day this month, they were learning a computer program created by MIT in a “Berkeley” computer lab and calculating kinetic energy in the “Harvard” science class.

Chesapeake opened with 300 sixth- and seventh-graders and hopes eventually to have 700 students in grades six through 12. The academic program, which focuses on mathematics, science and information technologies, aims to prepare students for college. The idea has drawn interest: The school has received 400 applications for 50 slots next school year.

“I do harder things,” sixth-grader Dorian Baldwin-Bott, 11, said of the charter’s classes. “Math is more challenging. . . . At my old school, we didn’t have computers too much. It was once

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