Gates Grants Overlap with Race to Top District Finalists
According to Education Daily, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced this week that it would give $25 to seven cities that have signed district-charter collaboration compacts. "Collaboration is highly productive, but often a struggle," said Vicki Phillips, a director of college-ready education at the foundation. The seven cities receiving the awards "have moved beyond the question of whether charters or district schools are better and are working together to benefit all students in these communities," Phillips said. Four of the cities – Hartford, New York, Boston and Philadelphia – are among the “portfolio” districts recognized among the 61 Race to the Top-District finalists and eligible for a share of $400 million in federal grants. Lori Shorr, the chief education officer for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, said the compact has allowed districts and charters to "get to the table to have the hard conversations."
Source: Education Daily (subscription)
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Philadelphia to Use Gates Grant for Urban Leadership Academy
According to the Philadelphia Tribune, Philadelphia will use its $2.5 million grant from the Gates foundation to create an urban leadership academy, where 40 to 50 aspiring principals can attain their certification. “To move the needle in Philadelphia, there needs to be a robust set of choices when it comes to hiring principals, and this should get us 40 to 50 candidates when fully implemented,” said Lori Shorr, the city’s Chief Education Officer. Seven cities won Gates grants for district-charter collaboration. In a statement, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools President and CEO Nina Rees said: “When schools and leaders in communities work together, learn from each other, share resources, best practices and sometimes even facilities, collectively we have a better chance at improving the educational opportunities for all children. We applaud these cities for helping to lead the way and look forward to continuing to learn from their efforts and collaboration to benefit more students throughout the country.”
Source: Philadelphia Tribune
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California Appeals Court Reverses Charter Facilities Decision
According to the Los Angeles Times, a three-judge California Court of Appeals unanimously reversed a decision that would have entitled public charter schools to more classroom space. The California Charter Schools Association had won the ruling in Los Angeles Superior Court on the grounds that the district uses many rooms for purposes beyond classroom instruction. The new ruling means charters will be allotted space on the district ratio of about 26 students per classrooms, rather than 15 per classroom. Under state law, school districts must offer space to charters that is "reasonably equivalent" to that provided for students on traditional campuses. According to Sierra Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the charter association, thousands of charter students attend school on substandard campuses. The association has not yet decided if it will ask the court to rehear the matter or if it will pursue a California Supreme Court review.
Source: Los Angeles Times
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Seven More Charter Schools on Tap for Indianapolis
According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s office has approved seven more public charter schools for the city, moving closer to Ballard’s goal of adding 20 new charter schools to the city by 2016. Six of the schools will be additional locations of existing public charter schools. “For about the past two years, we’ve been fostering these conversations around replications and expansions of existing, high-performing schools,” said Beth Bray, Ballard’s director of charter schools. Prior to this batch, Ballard had approved 12 charters, or 16 percent of the applications it had received, and shut down one school. Bray credited grant programs funded by the city and the Mind Trust for getting more schools to consider adding locations. “What we’re seeing is the successful charters that have been around for a while are now starting replicate,” said David Harris, CEO of the Mind Trust and the first director of charter schools in Indianapolis.
Source: Indianapolis Business Journal
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New Jersey May Ease Alternate-Route Rules for Charter-School Teachers
According to NJ Spotlight, the New Jersey Board of Education on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a proposal creating an alternate teacher-certification route for public charter schools. Under the proposal, alternate-route teachers at charter schools would no longer need at least 30 hours of credit in their content area or a set number of hours of classroom training, nor would they be required to have a mentor teacher. They would still need to pass a national exam in their content area, and charter schools would still need to provide in-school training and support for new teachers. “The rationale is increasing flexibility and autonomy in exchange for increased accountability,” said Amy Ruck, director of the state’s charter school office. “Our belief is a lot of this (training) will be already happening in the charter school,” she said. “Why require it in a prescribed way? This focuses more on the outcomes and less on the inputs.”
Source: NJ Spotlight