Opinion: African-Americans Powered the Passage of Georgia’s Charter School Amendment
On his website, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Douglas Blackmon explains the “absolutely extraordinary level of support” African-Americans gave to Georgia’s charter schools amendment, which voters approved Tuesday. In 14 of the 20 Georgia counties where African-Americans make up half or more of the population, 61 percent of all voters approved the amendment. “The bottom line: Georgia’s black counties overwhelmingly desire dramatic new alternatives to the conventional school systems that have failed them for more than a century,” Blackmon writes. “That level of support flatly contradicts one of the flimsiest canards used to criticize Amendment 1—and charter schools in general…the idea that somehow charter schools end up hurting minority or poorer students while disproportionately helping white and middle class children. The actual performance of charter schools in Georgia has always defied such claims. African-American students and all children living in urban areas with failed conventional public schools, like Atlanta, have benefited far more from charters than any other groups.”
Source: Slavery by Another Name
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Georgia Lawmaker to Introduce ‘Parent Trigger’ Legislation
According to Fox 5, Georgia state Rep. Edward Lindsey plans to introduce “parent trigger” legislation on the first day of the General Assembly session in January. Lindsey, the majority whip in the Georgia House of Representatives, said his bill would allow parents to petition the school board to turn their traditional public school into a public charter school. "The parents have to get a majority of the family households in the school to agree to it. They have to then put together a proposed charter and make a petition to the school boards," said Lindsey, who believes the measure would encourage parental involvement in schools. On Tuesday, Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment that will reestablish the state charter schools commission, whose members are expected to be appointed in February.
Source: Fox 5
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Washington Still Counting Votes, but Spokane Ready to Start Charters
According to the Peninsula Daily News, thousands more ballots were counted in Washington state Thursday, but the decision on Initiative 1240, the state’s charter school ballot measure, remains unclear. The state Secretary of State's office expects ballots to continue to arrive in the mail and county officials will keep on counting the thousands they have already received. I-1240 is currently passing with about 51 percent of the vote. According to the Spokesman-Review, Spokane Public Schools officials have already decided to apply to start a public charter school in their district if the initiative passes. Superintendent Shelley Redinger, who helped set up a charter school as a superintendent in Oregon, said her goal is to have as many options as possible for students within the district’s boundaries, such as a project-based, STEM or IB schools. “If we are really successful, I could see this evolving as we go,” she said.
Sources: Peninsula Daily News, Spokesman-Review
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New Hampshire Committee Approves Additional Funding for Existing Charters; Moratorium on New Charters Still Stands
According to the Nashua Telegraph and the Union Leader, New Hampshire’s Joint Fiscal Committee voted Thursday to approve an additional $4.45 million in funding for the 17 public charter schools already operating. However, a moratorium on approving new public charter schools imposed by the state Board of Education still stands. “It’s a really good first step, but still doesn’t take care of the schools in the pipeline, which will have to wait until funding is set for fiscal 2014,” said Board Chairman Tom Raffio. According to Raffio, the board will not consider any new charter applications until the new Legislature, which begins in January, can show there will be sufficient money to fund new schools. Joint Fiscal Committee Chairman Rep. Ken Weyler said he thought the board should lift its moratorium now, and members of the Joint Fiscal Committee agreed the funding system need to be examined. Charter school advocates said the board's decision jeopardizes the planned 2013 opening for several schools, as well as federal start-up grant money.
Sources: Nashua Telegraph, Union Leader
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D.C. Charters’ Graduation Rate Continues to Be Well Above District’s
According to the Washington Post, the graduation rate of D.C.’s public charter schools, which fell slightly this year to 77 percent, continues to be well above that of the city’s traditional public schools, which rose three points to 56 percent. D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said the two systems can’t be fairly compared, because charter schools can require additional commitments such as attending summer school or extended-day programs. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education is in the midst of studying data on how students move between the city’s district and charter schools. A report, expected soon, may shed light on the contention that DCPS schools end up serving students that leave charter schools with more rigorous expectations.
Source: Washington Post
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Opinion: Mississippi’s Republican Leaders Should Reach Out the Black Community on Charter Schools
On his Y’All Politics blog, Alan Lange urges Mississippi’s Republican lawmakers to forge a coalition with black Mississippians in order to pass public charter schools legislation. “Education isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue or a black and white issue. Just about every parent out there wants the exact same thing . . . the best education possible for our children…Bad public schools have disproportionately affected the poorest of Mississippi families. Our neighbors in Arkansas and Louisiana have many of their poorest kids in schools that many of our poorest parents could only dream of for their own children.” Lange recommends lawmakers hold hearings “where they do nothing but allow moms with children in failing schools to testify for days on end about how frustrated they are and how they wish their kids could go to a better school,” predicting that parents from around the state would line up for a chance to speak directly to legislators and the media.
Source: Y'all Politics
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Six More Memphis Schools to be Run by Charters
According to the Huffington Post, six more struggling Memphis schools will be run by public charter school operators next fall as part of Tennessee’s Achievement School District (ASD), which is seeking to turn around the state’s lowest-performing schools. Charter operators that have already been approved include California-based Aspire Public Schools, KIPP Memphis and Gestalt Community Schools. The ASD began this fall with five schools in Memphis and one in Nashville. Next year, the district will triple in size, serving 18 schools statewide. The following year, the ASD will expand again to include 35 schools. Statewide, 83 schools qualify to be in the ASD. “What most districts are only beginning to talk about, we are executing," Memphis Superintendent Kriner Cash wrote in a letter to the schools’ staffs. "Together, we are leading the way in education reform nationally, and we should be proud and excited about what lies ahead."
Source: Huffington Post