Study: Michigan Charters Give Students an Edge
According to the Detroit News, Michigan Radio and CapCon, the recent study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that public charter school students in Michigan – especially those that are black, Hispanic and low-income – are outperforming their district peers. Michigan charters enroll a higher percentage of minority students, students in poverty and English-language learners than traditional public schools and a slightly smaller percentage of students with special needs than district schools. Cindy Schumacher of Central Michigan University said the report shows the Michigan model is “leading to significant improvements for children, especially at-risk children who are historically underserved.” Michigan Association of Public School Academies President Dan Quisenberry said charters “are certainly having a very positive impact where they are needed the most.” Michigan Education Association President Doug Pratt suggested examining why charters are performing better “so that we can take the things that they’re learning and apply it to everybody else.”
Sources: Detroit News, Michigan Radio, CapCon
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One in Five New Charter Schools Are in California
According to EdSource, one in five of the new public charter schools that opened last year were based in California. Figures released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools also show that California students now comprise about one fifth of children enrolled in charters nationally – 494,000 out of 2.3 million. While California public schools enroll one in eight public school children in the U.S., they enroll an even higher proportion of the total number of charter school students. Eight percent of California students are now enrolled in charter schools. Charter schools have grown by 50 percent since 2007-08, during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The growth comes despite what Jed Wallace, executive director of the California Charter School Association, describes as “intense funding, facilities and authorizing challenges.”
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Budget Cuts Forcing Connecticut Charter Schools to Take Hard Look at Their Future
According to the Hartford Courant, the promise of increased funding from Connecticut’s General Assembly less than a year ago led to an upsurge in interest in starting new charter schools, but state budget problems have led to slashing the funding increase this year by $300 per student. Michael Sharpe, chief executive officer of Jumoke Academy Charter Schools in Hartford, called the impact of the cuts “devastating.” Dacia Toll, co-chief executive officer and president of Achievement First, said her network’s 10 Connecticut schools were “making really brutal mid-year cuts.” Toll expressed her concern that the state’s short-term fiscal crisis “will overshadow the far more devastating educational crisis we are facing." Charter school proponents say the underfunding in Connecticut is part of the reason the state has comparatively few charters – only 1.1 percent of the state’s students attend them, compared to 4.2 percent of students nationally, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Source: Hartford Courant
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Rocketship’s Model Effective with English-Language Learners
On Education Week’s Learning the Language blog, Ellen Wexler examines a new paper by Sean Kennedy and Dan Soifer of the Lexington Institute. The paper explores a variety of strategies for using technology to improve the language ability and content knowledge of English-language learners. Over the past 15 years, the number of English-language learners enrolled in public schools has increased by 51 percent to at least 5.3 million students. The paper highlights Rocketship Education, a network of California public charter elementary schools which serves a large population of English-language learners. According to Kennedy and Soifer, Rocketship’s extended day, block scheduling, and classroom-based literacy instruction help explain its strong test scores. They argue that the model is one that other schools should consider. Rocketship has recently announced plans to expand beyond California.
Source: Education Week
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Durham School Board Seeks Understanding with Charter Schools
According to the Durham News, the Durham, North Carolina school board endorsed a vision statement last week calling for “a culture of cooperation, transparency, accountability, and collegiality” for all the county’s public schools – both traditional public and public charter – “rather than one of competition and division.” Heidi Carter, chairwoman of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education called charter-district cooperation “a pretty big deal” and said the next step would be a compact limiting the number of new charters in Durham County. “We need to put aside our differences and figure out ways to work together,” said Carl Forsyth, managing director of the Voyager Academy charter school, which has signed onto the vision statement along with four other local charters. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked Durham County 22nd in the nation last year for public charter school market share. The state Department of Instruction has received 11 letters of intent for new public charter schools in Durham.
Source: The Durham News