Gates Foundation Gives $25 Million to Help Charters, Traditional Schools Cooperate
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and other media outlets, seven cities -- Boston, Denver, Hartford, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Spring Branch, Texas – will share $25 million in Gates Foundation grants to deepen collaboration between public charter and district schools. “These cities are particularly committed to advancing college-ready strategies in both district and charter schools," said Vicki Phillips, a Gates education director. "What we're most excited about is the common ground that's getting established." Hartford will get almost $5 million; Denver about $4 million. The other districts will receive between $2.2 million and $3.7 million each. The funds will be used for projects such as universal enrollment systems, leadership training for aspiring principals and joint professional development for charter and district teachers. The seven cities are among 16 that have signed a compact pledging districts and public charter schools will work together to improve education for all children.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Boston Business Journal, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune
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Hartford, Connecticut Receives Largest District-Charter Gates Grant
According to the Hartford Courant and other media outlets, Hartford, Connecticut is the smallest of the seven cities receiving a Gates foundation grant, but its grant is the largest. Of the $5 million, the Hartford school system will get nearly $2.8 million, Achievement First charter school network about $1.2 million and the Jumoke Academy charter schools just under $1.1 million. The money will be used for Achievement First to train and mentor future Hartford principals and for Jumoke Academy to transform three low-performing Hartford schools. In addition, the grant will support Hartford in aligning the district’s curriculum with the Common Core State Standards. "There are practices ... in charter schools that we must adapt and adopt within the broader public school system," said Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, a former Achievement First board member and co-founder of the network's Amistad Academy in New Haven. "We must be agnostic on governance and management. We must be focused obsessively on performance."
Sources: Hartford Courant, Hartford Guardian, WTNH, CBS
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Denver Lands $4 Million for ‘Charter Compact’
According to the Denver Post, Education News Colorado and CBS, Denver will receive $4 million from the Gates Foundation to support collaboration between the city’s public charter and district schools. The money will be used to support a pilot district-charter leadership training and mentoring program for principals and teachers, as well as other initiatives. Vicki Phillips, director of education for the Gates’ College-Ready program, called the leadership training already happening in Denver a national model. “District principals or candidates are spending a considerable amount of time in charter buildings,” Phillips said. “Some charter principals are actually coaching those candidates. Over time, there will be a mutual exchange where the reverse will be true.” "Denver is doing a lot of things right," foundation spokeswoman Debbie Veney Robinson said. "The real issue is: Are you replicating the best practices? There is a lot of that kind of fundamental work that is happening in Denver."
Sources: Denver Post, Education News Colorado, CBS
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Philadelphia Wins $2.5 Million in Gates District-Charter Collaboration Grant
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Washington Post, the Gates Foundation awarded Philadelphia $2.5 million Wednesday to promote collaboration between district, public charter and archdiocesan schools. The money will fund an urban leadership academy for principals, the expansion of a "teacher effectiveness" program currently in place at Mastery Charter Schools, and the creation of benchmark tests to align to the new Common Core standards. Gates education official Vicki Phillips said “you have an opportunity here to set such an important example for the rest of the country." Philadelphia School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said there is much work to be done in the city’s schools, and "that work cannot be done in silos," at it has in the past. Lori Shorr, chief education officer for Mayor Michael A. Nutter said it was time “to put adult foolishness aside…and start to talk about outcomes for kids and how we can learn from each other and not waste taxpayer money in duplicating services.”
Sources: Philadelphia Inquirer (here and here), Washington Post
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Texas’ Spring Branch District Wins Gates Grant for Collaboration with KIPP, YES Prep
According to the Memorial Examiner and CBS , Texas’ Spring Branch school district received a $2.1 million Gates foundation grant to advance its work with the public charter school networks KIPP Houston and YES Prep. “Across the nation,” KIPP Houston Public Schools Superintendent Sehba Ali said, “leaders of traditional public schools and charter schools are watching what is happening in Spring Branch. They realize that the sky is truly the limit when three high-performing education organizations like KIPP, YES Prep and Spring Branch commit to a single goal – ensuring that all children have access to their dreams of higher education.” KIPP and YES Prep currently operate programs inside two Spring Branch middle schools, sharing resources and facilities. When a high school program is added, the programs are expected to serve 1,200 students. The grant will help support the program, known locally as the SKY partnership, as well as developing a leadership pipeline through a principal and teacher training program.
Sources: Memorial Examiner , CBS
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North Carolina Board of Education Delays Action on Virtual Charter Schools
According to the Jacksonville Daily News , the North Carolina Board of Education delayed a vote on new standards for virtual public charter schools. This summer, a judge blocked charter school operator N.C. Learns from setting up a virtual school with 1,800 students in conjunction with the Cabarrus County Board of Education. The school board’s proposed rules would require operators to explain how a virtual charter school could improve on the state’s existing virtual public school; disallow virtual charter schools for elementary school students; cap virtual schools at three open and operating at once statewide; and cap the student-to-teacher ratio at 50 to one. Operators would also have to explain how the charter school would provide hands-on laboratory and physical experiences; define how attendance would be collected and monitored; and detail all equipment, training and software provided to students.
Source: Jacksonville Daily News
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Demand for Public Charter Schools in Texas Growing
According to News Channel 10 , Texas’ 450 public charter schools do not have enough room to keep up with the high demand. Currently, charters serve 135,000 students; another 100,000 are on waiting lists. Education officials are planning to ask the legislature in January to lift the cap on new charters. According to a study by the Texas Comptroller, 25 percent of the most effective schools in the state are charter schools. The Texas Education Commissioner has urged charter advocates to tell legislators about the high-quality education they are providing and to mentor low-performing district schools.
Source: News Channel 10
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KIPP Tour Reinforces Mississippi Lawmakers’ ‘Passion’ to Pass Charter School Bill
According to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Mississippi lawmakers came away from their tour of a KIPP Delta school in Arkansas impressed. “We have to have this,” said Mississippi Senate Education Chair Gray Tollison, who toured the 900-student school with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Sen. Nancy Collins, interim state Superintendent of Education Lynn House and three other state senators. Reeves said the tour reinforced “a passion” to pass charter school legislation during the 2013 session. “If it can happen in Helena, Arkansas, it can happen across the river. I personally support charter schools anywhere in Mississippi.” House said the Mississippi Board of Education believes it should be the authorizing authority for charter schools and supports charter schools in low-performing areas, but not statewide. Reeves said there are 45,000 students in failing schools within “successful” districts. Collins said she supported “a public charter school being allowed anywhere parents see the need for it.”
Source: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
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