Public Charter Schools Reach New Milestone: 6,000 Schools Serving 2.3 Million Students
According to PR Newswire, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools announced that the number of public charter schools in the United States passed 6,000 for the first time this year, with enrollment reaching 2.3 million students. "The growth of the public charter sector continues because parents are demanding quality options for their children," said Nina Rees, the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "Charter leaders are opening schools to respond to parents and to provide more students with a quality education that meets their needs." California, Florida, Texas, New York and Michigan added the most new charters this year. Since 2007-08, the public charter sector has added 1,700 schools – almost a 50 percent increase – and is serving an additional one million students – an increase of 80 percent. Rees called the growth over the past five years “truly remarkable," and said the movement’s momentum “will continue to positively impact public education…in communities across America."
Source: PR Newswire
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Report: California, Florida Lead Nation in Opening Public Charter Schools
According to the Huffington Post, a new National Alliance for Public Charter Schools report shows California leading the nation in both growth and the overall number of public charter schools. The state’s 1,000 charter schools make up just under 10 percent of all public schools in the state. Nationally, charters are 5.8 percent of the total number of public schools. “Even though charters in the state have been held back by funding inequality and lack of access to facilities, California has been able to develop the strongest ecosystem of charter schools and supporting organizations in the country," said California Charter Schools Association president Jed Wallace. "When other states catch the charter bug, they come to California to learn how to do it." According to the Miami Herald and WLRN, the report showed Florida claiming the number two spot for opening the most public charter schools in the nation this year.
Sources: Huffington Post, Miami Herald, WLRN
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Charter Schools Bill Sails Through Mississippi Senate Committee
According to the Jackson Free Press and other news outlets, the Mississippi Senate Education Committee easily approved a charter school bill Tuesday. The full Senate is expected to approve the bill; the House is drafting its own version. Under the bill, a seven-member authorizing board would approve and oversee charters and have the power to close low-performers. Only school districts rated “A” or “B” could veto charter school proposals. Private school conversions and virtual charter schools would be forbidden. Applicants would have to show evidence of community support for proposed charters, as well as the charter’s potential impact on the programs and finances of other local schools. Charters would be required to enroll a similar number of underserved students as their home districts, including low-income and low-performing students, those with special needs, and English-language learners. "This is what we want to focus on, this group of students, to get them up to grade level," said Senate Education Committee Chairman Gray Tollison.
Sources: Jackson Free Press, Mississippi Press, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Clarion Ledger
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Op-ed: Baltimore’s New Renewal Process Holds Charters Accountable
In a Baltimore Sun op-ed, Carol Beck, director of Supporting Public Schools of Choice, praises both the Baltimore City school system’s “willingness to try new approaches to education” and the new review process which led to the recommendation against renewal for three of the city’s 33 public charter schools. “The message will be that new approaches or new operators may sound good, but unless they deliver a high-quality education to Baltimore students, they will not last…Looking ahead, are there ways to share the more innovative practices seen in the review process and replicate the work of the best operators? How can we generate more parent involvement, like that seen in the most successful schools? What are the lessons for prospective school operators seeking to establish a strong school? And how can we create an environment that better supports charter and other innovative schools to increase the number of high-quality education options for our children?”
Source: Baltimore Sun
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Opinion: Michigan Charter Schools a Smashing Success
In a Mackinac Center blog post , Michael Van Beek praises the new study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes as “the most thorough analysis ever done of Michigan’s public charter schools” due to its scope and rigor. The study matched 85,650 individual charter school students to “virtual twins” at the district schools they otherwise would have attended over a five year period, comparing their math and reading test scores. Charter school students outperformed their district peers across all geographical categories (urban, rural, town, or suburban), school types (elementary, middle and K-12) and achievement levels. Learning growth increased the longer students were enrolled in charters. Van Beek concludes that the study “clearly shows that overall, charter schools in Michigan are an enormous success.”
Source: Mackinac Center
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New York City Mayoral Candidate Outlines Education Proposals
According to the Wall Street Journal and Gotham Schools , New York City Council Speaker and presumptive mayoral candidate Christine Quinn said Tuesday she would not push for an expansion of public charter schools. “I think the level we’re at is a good level, and I think we need to stop fighting over them,” she said. Quinn also said the city should not charge public charter schools rent, and that the city must find a way for district and charter schools to share buildings with less tension. “If you make charter schools pay rent, that’s the end of charter schools,” she said. James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, said his organization was “pretty confident that anyone who becomes mayor will come to understand that it isn’t about the particular size of charter schools sector or district schools. You want to expand the kinds of schools that are working.”
Sources: Wall Street Journal , Gotham Schools
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South Carolina Charter Schools Superintendent Asks State for More Funding
According to the Republic, the superintendent of South Carolina's statewide charter school district asked lawmakers Tuesday for an additional $12 million to keep up with his growing student population. Without it, Wayne Brazell said, "We'd have to cap growth." The charter schools operating within the statewide district get no money from local property taxes. This fall, the district expects to open 10 new schools and serve an additional 3,800 students. Currently, 11,600 students attend the district's 18 schools, including six online schools. Brazell also asked for the flexibility to not count students for graduation purposes who transfer into online charter schools and stay less than 45 days, because some school districts are using online charters as de facto alternative schools, driving down the statewide district’s performance grades. Finally, Brazell asked legislators to allow his district to more quickly close low-performing charters.