Walton Foundation Invests $29 Million in Charters in 2012
According to the Saporta Report, the Walton Family Foundation announced that in 2012, it invested nearly $29 million to help start 111 new public charter schools nationwide. In total, the foundation has invested $312.9 million in charter schools since 1997, supporting the creation of 1,437 schools. According to an analysis by the foundation, students in foundation-funded public charter schools had higher average levels of achievement than traditional public schools in 14 regions. Nina S. Rees, the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, called startup funding for high-quality charter schools “more important than ever.” Ed Kirby, deputy director of the Walton Foundation’s K-12 Education Reform Focus Area, called the public charter school movement “a dramatic example of how we can redefine American public education as a choice-based system in which parents are directly empowered to choose from a growing field of new, high-quality school options.”
Source: Saporta Report
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Mississippi Business Group Joins Push For Public Charter Schools
According to the Clarion Ledger, a group of 22 Mississippi business leaders is asking state legislators to enact a broad public charter school law that allows charters to be set up in any school district. The group, Better Education for Mississippi, is led by Bomgar Corp. Chairman Joel Bomgar, who said that all Mississippi parents should have a choice of schools for their children. The group supports creating an independent board to approve and regulate public charter schools. "Mississippians are fed up with the dismal results and want meaningful change now," Bomgar said. One of the key points in Mississippi’s debate over charter school legislation last year was whether local school boards should be able to veto charter schools in their districts. Bomgar said no school districts, even the highest-performing, should be able to block charter schools, citing an analysis showing that 50,000 students attend D-rated or F-rated schools in districts rated C or above.
Source: Clarion Ledger
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In Mississippi, Public Sentiment on Charter Schools is Overwhelmingly in Favor
On his Y’all Politics blog, Alan Lange cites a recent survey of 2,000 Mississippi households, which revealed that 70 percent of respondents support the creation of public charter schools in Mississippi. A majority of 18-24 year olds (84 percent), those 65 and older (64 percent), African-Americans (68 percent), Republicans (74 percent), Democrats (63 percent) and Independents (71 percent) support charters. “So, it’s pretty safe to say that the political sentiment is there statewide to make this happen,” Lange writes. Given the support for charters in the black community, Lange suggests pro-charter lawmakers make black business and community leaders “both a visible and real part of this debate and use this moment to help break down the political barriers that tend to exist in Mississippi along largely racial lines.”
Source: Y'all Politics
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Charter School Sponsor Rules in Place for Cleveland
According to the Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s Transformation Alliance, a new panel created by state legislation passed last year, has agreed on broad principles for evaluating public charter schools and their sponsors. The Alliance, made of representatives of the Cleveland school district, charter schools and the local business community, was sought by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson last year to hold the city’s charter schools to a high standard of quality. The Alliance will be able recommend to the Ohio Department of Education which sponsors should be able to open new charter schools in Cleveland. There are now nine sponsors overseeing 62 charter schools in the city. The new rules, developed by the district, the state education department and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, will require sponsors to evaluate a school’s educational and financial plans and to examine state tests, graduation rates and attendance on an ongoing basis.
Source: Plain Dealer
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Op-Ed: Make Schools More Diverse
In a Baltimore Sun op-ed, James Campbell, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates and the Baltimore city school board, recommends three steps policymakers can take to make American schools better. Among them, Campbell suggests making schools more diverse. “Today, there is a quiet but growing movement to expand the number of schools where children learn in racially and economically mixed settings,” Campbell writes. “Some 80 districts across the country, including urban, suburban, and rural areas, are now working to reduce the number of high-poverty schools by integrating students from middle- and low-income families. The National Alliance for Public Charter schools has seen a ‘noteworthy rise’ in the number of high-performing charters serving diverse populations…With students of color making up almost half the U.S. school population today, new approaches to closing the achievement gap will take on added significance. Our historic inability to provide all children with a quality education can no longer be tolerated."
Source: Baltimore Sun