All Eyes on Georgia, Washington as Voters Consider Charter School Initiatives
According to CNN, voters in Washington and Georgia will weigh in today on public charter school measures on their states’ ballots. Liv Finne, director for education at the Washington Policy Center, believes Initiative 1240 would create alternatives to failing schools and a more decentralized, accountable system. “For too long, Washington state has clung to an outmoded highly centralized system of delivering education, which the evidence shows fails to adequately educate far too many children,” she said. In Georgia, Rich Thompson switched his daughters to a public charter school because he sought a school tailored “to their needs, and not the needs of a system.” He appreciates the charter’s responsiveness after seeing “how gridlocked the system was” at their traditional public school, and hopes the charter school amendment will create opportunities for more families.
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Washington State: an Education Ballot Measure to Watch
According to the Atlantic, Washington state’s charter school ballot measure is a reminder that the education policies that most directly affect students, educators and communities are those at the state and local level. Public charter school enrollment has doubled nationally since 2007 to more than 2 million students, with another 600,000 on waiting lists. Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, compared Washington’s ballot measure to "dipping a toe in the water," given that the legislation would limit the number of charter campuses to 40 over the next five years. "There's certainly a lot of momentum," Rees said, along with hope that despite Washington voters’ rejection of charter school legislation three times in the last 16 years, "this year is the tipping point."
Source: The Atlantic
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Georgia’s Voters Will Decide on Future of Charter Schools
According to the New York Times, charter school ballot measures in Washington state and Georgia are being closely watched across the country. In Georgia, local school districts have the power to authorize public charter schools; the ballot measure would recreate the state charter schools commission, which could also approve charters. Public school districts “have a monopoly they wish to protect,” said state Sen. Chip Rogers, who sponsored the bill that put the measure on the November ballot. “But if they’re not serving their kids, you have to give them an additional option.” Monica Henson is the executive director of the Provost Academy, an online school authorized by the now defunct state commission. Her school serves students who were at risk of dropping out of traditional schools, many of them from poor and minority families. She said the amendment would help other similar schools start and grow. “How can something like this be bad for kids?” she asked.
Source: New York Times
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When It Comes To Georgia Charter School Debate, Both Sides Agree On Quality
In Creative Loafing Atlanta, Max Blau writes that in voting on Georgia’s charter school ballot measure today, “Georgia voters will indicate their confidence in the entire charter school movement.” Brian Deutsch, a board member of the Museum School of Avondale Estates, which was originally approved by the state-appointed commission after the DeKalb County school board rejected their proposal, said his school, run mostly by parents “is all about local control… pretty much all folks in this community that have high standards. If our school didn't meet those standards, we're not going to have a charter." According to Bert Brantley, spokesman for Families for Better Public Schools, "It's not one of those things that are red or blue — 'high quality' is very subjective — but the whole goal is: can we get a process in place where high quality charters are approved?"
Source: Creative Loafing Atlanta
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Charter Schools Surge in California’s Sonoma County
According to Petaluma 360 , Sonoma County is at the forefront of California’s public charter school movement, second only to Los Angeles in the number of new charters opening this year. Twenty-three percent of Sonoma County’s 70,700 kindergarten-through-12th graders are enrolled in charter schools. Two years ago, 13 percent of Sonoma County students were in charter schools. Today, there are 56 charter campuses in the county; 15 years ago, there were two. Most of Sonoma’s charters were traditional public schools which applied to the state for conversions. Rincon Valley School District has converted five of its eight elementary campuses to charters, which has allowed them to be innovative while maintaining the district’s economy of scale in such areas as maintenance, financial services and construction. Overall, California saw a 17 percent increase this year in students attending charters.
Source: Petaluma 360
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Albuquerque Charter School Teaches Kids to Fly Planes
KRQE profiled Albuquerque’s Southwest Aeronautics, Mathematics, and Science Academy (SAMS.) "We're one of five schools in the nation that actually offer kids the opportunity to learn how to fly airplanes," said Scott Glasrud, SAMS Academy administrator, who said the school works closely with the aviation industry to determine "what do you need our kids to know and be able to do when they get out of here so they can have these high paying high tech jobs that are coming to New Mexico within the aviation industry." As part of the Southwest Learning Centers Charter Schools, SAMS teaches both in the classroom and online and has some of the highest test scores in the state. "It's something that I'm not able to do at any other school in New Mexico," said junior Carina Sicola. About 4,200 students are on the school’s waiting list.