Georgia Voters Approve Charter School Amendment
According to the Marietta Daily Journal and the Anderson Independent Mail, Georgia voters approved an amendment to the state’s constitution which will restore the state’s authority to approve and fund public charter schools. With 94 percent of precincts reporting, 58 percent of voters approved the measure and 42 percent opposed it. The amendment will re-establish a statewide commission to consider applications for public charter schools. That power was granted almost exclusively to local school boards after a 2011 state Supreme Court decision declared the original state charter schools commission unconstitutional. "This puts more power in the hands of parents, and we're going to use it to continue improving all public education in Georgia," said charter school advocate Mark Peevy. State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, who co-sponsored the resolution, said: “Kids who attend state-authorized charters right now, they got the best civics lesson ever.”
Sources: Marietta Daily Journal, Anderson Independent Mail
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Washington State Charter School Initiative Has Slim Lead
According to the Seattle Times, Washington state’s public charter school ballot measure, Initiative 1240, appears poised to pass with a slight lead in one of the closest statewide races. As of late Tuesday night, the measure was passing with 51.2 percent of the votes in favor and 48.8 percent opposed, with 60 percent of the votes counted. "We've run an aggressive, positive, high-road campaign," said Lisa Macfarlane, one of the leaders of Yes on 1240. If the measure passes, up to 40 public charter schools would be allowed to open statewide over the next five years. Washington voters have turned down charter schools three times before — in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Supporters hope they will see success this time around, given that there are now nearly 6,000 charters operating in 41 other states.
Source: Seattle Times
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Cleveland School Levy Poised to Pass
According to the Plain Dealer, the Cleveland school levy, part of a plan to transform the city’s troubled schools, appeared to pass Tuesday night, winning support from 55 percent of voters with almost all ballots counted. The levy would raise property taxes in order to give the schools around $85 million more annually, $5.7 million of which would be shared with high-performing public charter schools partnered with the district. Mayor Frank Jackson told supporters the levy was the second step in a three-part plan to transform Cleveland’s schools; the first came this summer when the state Legislature gave the district the power to make sweeping reforms, including a goal of tripling the number of students in quality city schools, be they district or charter. The third step will be carrying out the Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools, which includes a merit pay system and a de-emphasis on seniority and tenure, allowing the district the flexibility to keep high-performing and specialized teachers.
Source: Plain Dealer
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Tennessee May Consider Statewide Charter School Authorizer
According to the Tennessean, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is considering proposing the establishment of a statewide charter-school authorizer as part of his legislative agenda. The Tennessee Charter School Incubator, which was launched to help open charter schools in Memphis and Nashville, has also called for the creation of a statewide authorizer. Forty-nine charter schools currently operate in Tennessee. A 2011 law lifted a 90-school statewide cap and opened charter schools to all students by removing a provision which restricted enrollment to economically disadvantaged students or those from failing schools. The question of who should approve charters came to a head this year in Nashville, where the local school board repeatedly denied the application of Great Hearts Academies over concerns about diversity, despite being directed to approve it by the State Board of Education. As a result, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman withheld $3.4 million in state funding from Nashville’s school district.
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Harlem Prep Charter School Students Help Get Out the Vote
According to Gotham Schools, students at Harlem Prep Middle School, part of New York City’s Democracy Prep network of public charter schools, spent Election Day reminding Harlem residents to exercise their right to vote. The get-out-the-vote activities reflect the network’s emphasis on civics. Last month, Democracy Prep students also starred in a music video that exhorted viewers to “Vote for Somebody.” Since its founding six years ago, Democracy Prep students have helped nearly 5,000 citizens in Harlem register to vote, according to the network. Katie Duffy, chief operating officer at Democracy Prep, said some of the students who participated in the first “I Can’t Vote, But You Can” campaign six years ago are now old enough to vote, and three of them were certified as poll workers this year.
Source: Gotham Schools