Mississippi Senate Passes Charter School Bill
According to the Clarion Ledger and Mississippi Public Broadcasting, the Mississippi Senate passed a charter school bill Wednesday after more than three hours of debate and seven attempted amendments. The only amendment to pass Wednesday was a measure to revoke a school’s charter if it gets an F for two years in a row. “There are some places where parents and students do not have a good choice, and we need to give them this option to create equal opportunity for every student in this state,” said Senate Education Chairman Gray Tollison. The bill now goes to the House. "I think as the public gets more and more engaged and more and more involved in this debate, that the members of the House will step up and do the right thing for kids in Mississippi,” said Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves. Last year the Senate passed a charter school bill that died in the House Education Committee.
Sources: Clarion Ledger, Mississippi Public Broadcasting
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Editorial: In Tennessee, Give Students Attending Failing Schools More Charter School Options
A Memphis Commercial Appeal editorial acknowledges the concerns that local school districts may have about giving up their authority over the approval of public charter schools, but argues that such concerns must be “viewed in the context of what is best for children, especially those attending schools that are failing to help their students become proficient in core subjects. Well-run charter schools, which are free of some of the rules and regulations that apply to public schools, are considered one of the weapons that are useful in boosting student achievement.” As Tennessee lawmakers consider a proposal to give an independent statewide entity the power to authorize public charter schools, the Appeal insists that “children attending failing schools and their parents should have education options that include high-performing charter schools. And the focus should be on making that option more accessible — no matter who approves the charter schools.”
Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal
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New Hampshire State Education Board Holds Firm on Charter-School Moratorium
According to the Concord Monitor, the New Hampshire Board of Education on Wednesday reaffirmed its four-month-old moratorium on new public charter schools. “The new state Legislature has to find the funding and prove to us that the funding [is there] for the potential yet-to-be-authorized schools,” said Chairman Tom Raffio. The moratorium could last until the end of June, when a new two-year state budget will be finalized. In September, the board voted not to approve any new charter schools because it said there wasn’t enough money in the budget to pay for even existing charter schools. In December, the Executive Council approved spending an extra $4.5 million to cover funding for existing charters. Matt Southerton, director of the New Hampshire Center for Innovative Schools said the board members should not insert themselves into the legislative budget process as they review proposals for new charter schools. “They should base their decision on the merits of the application,” he said.
Source: Concord Monitor
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Georgia Department of Education Releases Charter Schools Annual Report
According to the Rome News-Tribune, the Georgia Department of Education’s 2011-12 Charter Schools Annual Report found that Georgia’s charter schools are showing gains in student achievement in most areas and are continuing to see steady growth in student enrollment. “This report highlights that our intense focus during the past two years on improving the quality of Georgia’s charter schools is yielding results,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “With improvements in academic performance across the board, I’m confident that our charter schools are a great option for parents and students.” Georgia charter schools have outperformed non-charter schools on certain state reading and math tests for each of the past five years. Enrollment in charter schools in Georgia has more than doubled in the last three years. During the 2011-12 school year, 11 new start-up charter schools and one new conversion charter school opened their doors. The total number of charter schools statewide increased 34 percent.
Source: Rome News-Tribune