Mississippi House Passes Charter Schools Bill
According to the Mississippi Press, the Mississippi House passed a bill early Thursday morning that would expand public charter schools in the state. The 64-55 vote came after more than seven hours of debate. "I want you to help me start the education revolution in Mississippi today," Rep. Charles Busby told fellow lawmakers. The bill’s authors amended it early in the debate to bar for-profit management organizations from running public charter schools. Seventeen additional amendments were voted down. The House bill would limit charters to 15 per year, allow school boards to veto charters in all but the lowest-performing districts and disallow students from attending charters outside their school districts. The Senate passed a broader charter schools bill last week. The House and Senate must now agree on a version to send to Governor Phil Bryant, who during his State of the State address Tuesday reiterated his desire to sign an expanded charter schools law.
Source: Mississippi Press
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D.C. Schools Reaching ‘Tipping Point’?
According to the Washington Post, the D.C. Council’s new Education Committee will work on a plan for the coexistence of the school district with public charter schools, which more than 40 percent of the city’s public school children now attend. “I believe we are within a year or two of hitting an irreversible tipping point,” said committee chair David Catania. The district plans to close 15 under-enrolled schools this year, affecting 2,600 students. Students from the 23 schools closed in 2008 turned out to be twice as likely as other students to transfer to charter schools. “You’re absolutely right in that many charter schools, because of their proficiency rates, offer, at least on the surface, a better opportunity,” city schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson told the committee. “We’re going to have to work really hard.” Catania agreed, saying: “If we don’t become very serious about marketing and competing…traditional public schools, as we know them, will become a thing of the past.”
Source: Washington Post
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North Carolina May Allow Public Funding of Charter School Construction
According to the News & Observer, a leading North Carolina lawmaker said he is expecting this year’s legislative session to produce a bill that would allow counties to help public charter schools pay for building their facilities. Currently, the state’s charter schools are not allowed to use public funds to pay for construction. “Charter schools are desperately in need of help for facilities,” said Eddie Goodall, executive director of the N.C. Public Charter Schools Association. The 2011 law lifting the state’s cap on charter schools originally would have permitted county governments to help fund their construction, but the provision was removed before passage. Rep. Paul Stam, House Speaker pro tempore, said he expects the change to be approved in new statewide legislation this year. Some county commissioners, such as those in Wake County, favor giving public charter schools money to construct facilities if they can build them for no more than half the school district’s average cost.
Source: News & Observer
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New Method of Measurement Means Fewer Pennsylvania Charters Make AYP
According to the Patriot-News, a new way of measuring the performance of Pennsylvania public charter schools, ordered by the U.S. Department of Education, shows 34 fewer charters making “adequate yearly progress” (AYP). Individual schools must hit certain performance targets in every grade tested to make AYP; school districts need only hit the target in one of three grade spans: grades 3-5, 4-6 or 9-12. Last year, state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis ordered the department to treat charter schools the same way it treats school districts in calculating AYP, in part because some of the state’s cyber charter schools are larger than most districts. Under the new method of measurement, a third, rather than 59 percent, of the state’s charters made AYP. Bob Fayfich, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, said the recalculation has the potential to make charter schools appear to be underperforming. “But is that fair and an accurate interpretation of what’s happening? No,” Fayfich said.