Race to Top District Finalists Include New Hopefuls
According to Education Week, the list of 61 finalists for the latest Race to the Top competition includes seven charter or charter-like schools and networks, including well-known management organizations such as KIPP DC and Green Dot Schools of Los Angeles. "It's interesting and encouraging," said Andy Smarick, a partner at Bellwether Education Partners. "It shows [charters] can be nimble and on the cutting edge." Texas' Uplift Education, a network of 26 public charter schools with a combined enrollment of 7,500 students, applied to use a $17 million grant to expand International Baccalaureate programs, increase parental engagement through efforts such as "parent university" classes in subjects like child nutrition, implement its performance-management system for educators, and enhance its student-data system.
Source: Education Week
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Brookings Ranks New Orleans, New York, D.C. Best Cities for School Choice
According to the Washington Post, the Brookings Institution graded more than 100 cities and large suburbs on school choice policies and the availability of education options. New Orleans, New York City and Washington, D.C. claimed the top three spots. “The thing that of course stands out about the District of Columbia is that 40, 45 percent of kids are in schools of choice — which is very high with respect to the rest of the nation,” said the Brookings Institution’s Grover J. Whitehurst. D.C. Public Charter School Board Executive Director Scott Pearson said that while D.C. “is one of the most robust cities for choice in the country…a lot of aspects of our choice system that aren’t optimal for parents and families and, in many cases, for schools.” Pearson said D.C. charter leaders are considering a system in which a computer algorithm assigns students to schools according to parents’ ranked preferences.
Source: Washington Post
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Editorial: Give Charters a Chance in Mississippi
A Memphis Commercial Appeal editorial urges Mississippi lawmakers to allow public charter schools “for the future of the state's children…Charters are not a panacea for improving student proficiency in core subjects, but when structured right they have helped children achieve academically…Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and legislators saw the impact charters can have on students during a recent tour of the KIPP school in Helena, Ark. They left impressed. KIPP: Memphis Collegiate Schools is among charter schools in Memphis that are helping students achieve academically…[A]bout 30 percent of Mississippi's school districts are failing or at risk of failing. Children at those schools deserve a chance for a better education. Charter schools would provide those students with another tool to get that chance.”
Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal
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Missouri Charter Schools Should Be an Option for All Students
Missouri Charter Public School Association President Douglas Thaman was interviewed on Missouri News Horizon's Missouri Viewpoints. According to Thaman, public charter schools are meant “to provide innovative models to families so that a parent can make a decision about the best place for their child to go to school based on the model of the school, what the school offers, location of the school, but it’s tuition-free…If, after a period of time, that school is not performing, is not meeting its goals, then it’s closed.” In contrast, Thaman said, “Historically there are poor-performing schools, public schools, that, although they’re not really serving and meeting the needs of children, they operate year after year after year.” Enrollment in Missouri’s public charter schools is now over 20,000. At the end of the 2011 school year, over a quarter of all St. Louis public school students and almost a third of Kansas City public school students attended charter schools. Currently, charter schools can only be formed in Missouri districts that are unaccredited or only provisionally accredited for at least three years.
Source: Missouri News Horizon
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Editorial: Districts Should Embrace Public Charter Schools in Washington’s Tri-Cities Area
A Bellingham Herald editorial calls Washington state’s Tri-Cities area “fertile ground” for new public charter schools and urges local school districts to “embrace the opportunity.” “We see this as an opportunity for a Mid-Columbia school district to flex some innovative educational muscle… we are already doing some pretty innovative things in this community. Here's one more opportunity. Charter schools offer options. They are able to provide a district freedoms that are not currently on the table…Rather than wait to compete with a charter school, it makes sense for at least one of our districts to invest in one.”
Source: Bellingham Herald
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Cleveland Mayor Names Members of Transformation Alliance
According to the Plain Dealer, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson named the 30 members of the city’s new Transformation Alliance, which will review charter school applications and make recommendations to the Ohio Department of Education on approving charter school sponsors. The panel will meet next week to determine the criteria for who is able to sponsor new charter schools. "This committee is an essential part of improving education," Jackson said. "All we want is quality education for our children, whether in [traditional] public schools or charter schools. That's all that matters." Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools CEO William Sims and Breakthrough Charter Schools CEO Alan Rosskamm will serve on the panel, which includes corporate executives, nonprofit leaders, parents, school officials, principals and teachers. "Our goal is to get more kids in better seats (in higher performing schools) more quickly," said city schools CEO Eric Gordon.
Source: Plain Dealer