Massachusetts Bill Would End Charter Cap
According to the Boston Globe, a bill is expected to be filed Friday in the Massachusetts Legislature that would eliminate the cap on the number of public charter schools allowed to operate in Boston and other low-performing school districts. “When something is working in such an important area as lifting the prosperity of low-income children, there is no rationale for restricting those practices,” said Boston Foundation President Paul Grogan. Three years ago, the Legislature doubled the percentage of funds low-performing districts could direct to charters. Boston, Holyoke and Lawrence are already near those spending levels. Without a legislative change, no more charters will be able to open after this year, despite waiting lists that statewide combine to a total 45,000 students. “We have some of the best charter schools in the nation in Boston,” said Marc Kenen, executive director of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association. “For the state not to allow more of these schools to open would be a shame.”
Source: Boston Globe
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Louisiana Streamlines Process for Proven Charters to Open New Campuses
According to the Times-Picayune, Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education passed a proposal Wednesday to allow high-performing charter operators to open up to two new schools without formally applying for new charters. State Superintendent John White said groups such as FirstLine and KIPP, which already run multiple New Orleans schools, are "very expert at creation of schools and have very distinct models," he said, so it makes no sense to make them jump through hoops. Qualified charters will be able to open new schools that serve the same grade levels and same geographic area as their original schools, but their existing schools must average an A or B on state schools report cards, have increased their test scores three years running, and must be in good financial shape. The board also approved an expanded school report card that codifies management and financial requirements for state-authorized charters. The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools supports the changes.
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New Georgia Charter Schools Commission Appointed
According to Georgia Public Broadcasting, Georgia’s State Board of Education on Thursday appointed a new seven-member state Charter Schools Commission. Voters approved the new commission in a November referendum. Three of the seven commission members served on the previous charter schools commission; a fourth member previously served on the state board. If a local school board rejects a charter school's application, the school can now appeal to the commission rather than the Board of Education, and qualify for more per pupil funding. Louis Erste, director of the state charter school division, said the new commission will also help charters find alternative funding by establishing partnerships "with universities, and municipalities and local governments, business community as needed.” State Superintendent John Barge had initially opposed creation of the commission, but said he no longer has any concerns and praised the new commissioners as “all really strong people.”
Source: Georgia Public Broadcasting
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Fifteen D.C. Schools to Close; No New Buildings for City’s Charters
According to the Washington Post, 15 D.C. public schools will close amid budget pressures and low enrollment, but none of the closed school buildings will be made available to the city’s public charter schools. City schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said she needs to keep control of the facilities so they can be reopened as enrollment rebounds. City law requires that surplus public school buildings be made available to charter schools, but charters often struggle to find suitable and affordable real estate. Robert Cane, executive director of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools, said the decision was “about defending DCPS from the popularity of the charter schools, and it has nothing to do with getting more kids into quality schools.” Currently, more than 40 percent of the city’s public school students attend charters. “We can’t ignore the fact that we as a city have embraced school choice,” Henderson told city council members Thursday.
Source: Washington Post
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Most “Next Generation Learning” Models are Charter Networks
On his Education Week blog, Tom Vander Ark notes that of the 20 “breakthrough school models” selected by Next Generation Learning Challenges, 14 are charter management organizations. These include public charter school networks such as Aspire Public Schools, the largest K-12 network in California, which will open blended K-8 schools in Memphis this year; KIPP Chicago, which opened the technology-focused College Prep Middle last year; and Cornerstone Charter Health High, which features a close partnership with the Detroit Medical Center.
Source: Education Week