Sandra Bullock Recieves People's Choice Humanitarian Award for Charter School Work
According to Ace Show Biz, actress Sandra Bullock received the People's Choice Award for Favorite Humanitarian for her philanthropic efforts, particularly her contribution to the New Orleans' Warren Easton Charter High School. Bullock adopted the charter school after it was hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Oscar-winning actress donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for the school's renovation, allowing Easton to rebuild and add a new health clinic, as well as to buy new band uniforms and athletic equipment. "I'm not at all being modest when I say I'm not doing anything compared to what they do on a daily basis," Bullock said. She said Easton has a 100 percent graduation rate. “They do not allow themselves any other option other than to succeed,” she said.
Sources: Ace Show Biz, video
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In California, Success for Parent Trigger Law
According to the Los Angeles Times, a vote by the Adelanto, California school board this week signaled the country’s first successful use of a parent-trigger law. After an 18-month effort, the school board voted unanimously to approve the request by parents at Desert Trails Elementary School that a public charter school, LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy, operate the campus beginning in August. Two opponents of the parent trigger petition lost the school board election in November and a third left his seat for the city council. One of the new school board members, Teresa Rogers, was a parent leader of the trigger campaign. “We applaud the school board members for their courage and commitment,” Desert Trails parent leader Cynthia Ramirez said in a statement. “The school board has set an example for other parents and districts across the country on how to use Parent Trigger legislation to transform otherwise failing public schools.”
Sources: Los Angeles Times
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D.C. Charter Board May Close Low-Performing Imagine School
According to the Washington Post , the D.C. Public Charter School Board (PCSB) will vote Thursday night on whether to close a low-performing public charter school which serves more than 500 elementary and middle-school students. Imagine Southeast opened in 2008 and has since failed to meet four of the five goals laid out in its charter agreement. Attendance rates at Imagine are among the lowest in its section of the city, and re-enrollment rates have never risen above 70 percent. Both reading and math proficiency rates – at 36 and 33 percent, respectively – are below city averages. The school’s discipline policy does not provide due process for students, and its application asks for “information that was not allowable,” according to the PCSB, which reviews school performance every five years. “A school cannot simply make a promise to educate kids well and not deliver,” wrote PCSB spokeswoman Audrey Williams. Last year, Missouri officials closed six Imagine charter schools in St. Louis.
Source: Washington Post
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North Carolina Sees 154 Proposals for New Public Charter Schools
According to the Huntersville Herald and the Charlotte Observer’s Your Schools blog, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction received 154 letters of intent from public charter schools proposing to open in fall 2014. Most of the proposals were for the Charlotte area, with 33 proposed in Mecklenburg County and 17 in surrounding counties. Guilford County, which includes Greensboro, had the second-most requests with 18. The state lifted the 100-school cap on charters in 2011 and has received hundreds of charter applications since then. An advisory board and the state Board of Education will review business and educational plans before deciding by July which proposals will be granted charters. Last year, 25 of 59 applications were approved.
Sources: Huntersville Herald, Charlotte Observer
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Kentucky Charter School Push is Revived
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, a proposed bill in the Kentucky House would allow the establishment of up to 15 public charter schools per year for five years, authorized by a new charter school commission or local school boards. Half of the charters would have to be located within a three-mile radius of schools where at least 50 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Rep. Brad Montell, who has sponsored similar bills for the past four years, is not optimistic about the bill’s success, but said: “We are going to continue to bring this issue up until we can get it passed.” Jerry Stephenson, state director for the Black Alliance for Educational Options, called public charter schools “the most viable option for low-income, working-class families to be able to provide a high-quality education for children who are struggling in our traditional system.” Kentucky is among about eight states that do not allow charter schools.
Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
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Maine Governor Asks Charter School Commission to Resign
According to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Maine Governor Paul LePage called for members of the state’s charter school commission to resign after they rejected four out of five proposals for new charter schools this week, including applications for two virtual schools. LePage accused the commission members of letting the Maine School Boards Association bully them after the association threatened legal action if virtual charters were approved. Commission Chair Jana LaPoint said members had already decided to vote against the virtual schools before seeing the association's letter. "We very much followed the statutes and we did what we felt was in the best interests of the students of the state of Maine," LaPoint said. LePage suggested the commission structure should be overhauled because “it’s run by the status quo.”
Source: Maine Public Broadcasting Network
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Washington State Board of Education to Draft Rules for Charter Schools
According to the Seattle Times, the Washington State Board of Education has set a date – February 26 – to vote on the state’s first set of rules for establishing public charter schools. The first set of rules would establish an annual application and approval process, including timelines. Additional sets of rules will eventually address issues such as overseeing authorizers and shutting down unsuccessful charter schools. At a meeting Wednesday, the board heard from Alex Medler, vice president of policy and advocacy for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, who praised Washington's new charter law for its language around authorization and oversight. Medler said some failures would be inevitable; the key is to close the bad schools and keep opening better ones. "We just need to have quality at absolutely the forefront at every step in the process," agreed board member Mary Jean Ryan.
Source: Seattle Times