NAPCS Report on Rising Charter Enrollment Continues to Make Headlines
According to Education Daily, a recent National Alliance for Public Charter Schools report found that charter school enrollment grew by 200,000 students in the 2011- 2012 school year, when 110 school districts had at least 10 percent of students enrolled in charters. Twenty-five school districts have more than 20 percent of their students enrolled in charters; districts in seven cities enroll at least 30 percent of their students in charters. The report, A Growing Movement: America's Largest Charter School Communities, said that last year's 15 percent growth in charter enrollment is the largest so far. "Charter schools have led efforts to narrow achievement gaps and are showing that success is possible in neighborhoods where schools have been failing for generations," the report said. "For these reasons, public charter schools have been the fastest-growing sector of America's public education system." In related stories, Michigan Radio and KPHO Phoenix reported on rising charter school enrollments in Michigan and Arizona.
Sources: Education Daily (subscription), Michigan Radio, KPHO Phoenix
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Much More to Do Before Washington State Charter Schools Can Open
According to the Oregonian, although Washington state voters have approved Initiative 1240, much work remains before the state’s first public charter schools can open. The state Board of Education has until March 6 to adopt rules to govern charter schools. In addition, nine members must be appointed to the new Washington Charter School Commission, after which it can write rules for the charter application process. According to Chris Korsmo, executive director of the League of Education Voters, there has been “an outpouring of support that I couldn't have predicted” from out-of-state groups offering to help. Robin Lake, director of the University of Washington's Center on Reinventing Public Education said the state’s new charter schools are most likely to succeed if authorizers focus on good performance and management. "It takes commitment and on-the-ground work after the law is implemented," she said.
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Michigan Governor Proposes Focusing Funding on Students, Not Districts
According to the Detroit News, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has proposed a plan to overhaul the state’s public education funding system which would remove school district "ownership" of students and let them take their minimum $6,900 a year in state aid to other public schools. Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, which represents charter schools, said the proposed changes would make funding more equitable, focus on the student rather than the district and lay the groundwork for testing and achievement policies. "We think (Snyder) is headed in the right direction and is providing innovation and should allow good education groups to work hard at giving kids what they need," Quisenberry said.
Source: Detroit News
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Flint, Michigan School Board Explores Charter Authorization
According to the Flint Journal, the school board in Flint, Michigan, which ranks fourth in the nation in percentage of students enrolled in public charter schools, is considering opening its own charter school. Currently, 4,700 Flint students attend a charter school; under 10,000 attend district schools. Flint’s school district is running an $11 million deficit. "The board has been thinking that we ought to give this some serious thought," said Board President Antoinette Lockett, adding that a charter could fill an unmet need for a specialty school in the district. Eight Michigan school districts authorize charters, most recently Muskegon Heights and Highland Park, which turned over their entire districts to a charter operators at order of their state emergency manager. Flint’s board recently asked Mark Eitrem of the Michigan Department of Education to speak about the process of authorizing. He told board members there are under-served populations in the district “that, for one reason or another, you are not able to reach."
Source: Flint Journal
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Three Charter School Operators Apply for “Fast Track” Approval in D.C.
According to the Washington Post , three experienced public charter-school operators have applied for fast-track approval to run 10 campuses serving thousands of students in D.C. California-based Rocketship Education hopes to open eight campuses between 2015 and 2020, eventually serving 5,000 D.C. students. Nexus Academy, which partners with Connections Education to run schools in Michigan and Ohio, aims to enroll 600 D.C. students. K12 Inc., which runs virtual schools around the country, wants to open a 550-student school in D.C. All three charters would offer “blended learning” models, combining traditional instruction with online education. The charter school board, which created the “fast-track” process this summer in order to attract proven charter operators to the city, is scheduled to decide whether to approve their applications by February. Four charters approved last year to open in fall 2013 are in the midst of finding facilities, including the city’s first Hebrew immersion school and an adult education school.
Source: Washington Post
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Pennsylvania Charter Coalition Responds to Philadelphia’s Charter Cap
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer , the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools protested the Philadelphia School Reform Commission's decision to suspend part of state law in order to control charter-school growth and warned it could trigger legal challenges. Bob Fayfich, the coalition's executive director, said the item suspending a section of school code which prevents districts from capping charter enrollment was added to the last Thursday’s SRC meeting agenda at the last minute and voted on without public comment. "If a charter school wants to agree to a cap, that is fine with us," Fayfich said, but added that the law prohibits districts from capping charter enrollment unless the charter agrees. SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos responded that the SRC recently approved 1,866 more seats at high-performing charters in 2012-2013 and 5,416 additional seats by 2017, as part of the Philadelphia Great Schools Compact. "Despite unprecedented financial crises, the district has continued to make high-quality seats a priority," Ramos said.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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NYC Mayoral Hopefuls Discuss School Reform
According to the New York Times , five likely candidates for New York City mayor discussed education reform in a forum hosted by GothamSchools and Manhattan Media. None of the candidates said they would drop mayoral control of the city’s public schools, but they disagreed on how much progress has been made. The candidates also differed on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policy of allowing public charter schools to co-locate, or share space, in traditional public school buildings. City public advocate Bill de Blasio said the process for co-locations was “not democratic.” City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn said co-locations of schools, whether charter or not, should continue. Manhattan Media CEO Tom Allon called charter schools laboratories for reform.
Source: New York Times
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Democracy Prep Group Visits Korea
According to Yonhap News, 40 students and teachers from Democracy Prep Public Charter Schools, which operates seven New York City sites, met with South Korea’s education minister, Lee Ju-ho, in Seoul on Tuesday. Before founding Democracy Prep in Harlem in 2006, Seth Andrew taught English in Korea for a year. Democracy Prep students study Korean language and culture, such as traditional dance and Taekwondo, through which they learn “the core values of discipline, respect and enthusiasm," a school official said. During Tuesday’s meeting, Lee Ju-ho said he and the Democracy Prep group discussed "the secrets behind the successful Korean system and the personality education which Seoul has put an emphasis on in recent days." Andrew said: "I hope South Korea's enthusiasm for education will give hope to low-income families in the U.S." The Democracy Prep students and teachers are in Korea for a two-week trip.
Source: Yonhap News