National School Choice Week to Include 3,500 Events in 50 States
According to Education Week’s “Charters & Choice” blog, the third annual National School Choice week kicked off Friday in Phoenix with remarks from Mayor Greg Stanton and a performance from the Jonas Brothers. A whistle-stop train tour will visit 14 cities over nine days. "Whether it's a public school, a public charter, a magnet school, a private school, or homeschooling, we want parents to be able to make that choice," said National School Choice Week president Andrew Campanella. The week includes 3,500 different events in all 50 states. In the Kansas City Star, Mary Sanchez notes that Kansas City will be part of the whistle-stop tour. “If [charters] don’t make the grade, they shutter or reconfigure. If they do well, they raise the bar for all schools,” she writes. “Having more strong school options in a community saves taxpayer money…For every student who drops out of high school, the cost to taxpayers is $71,000.”
Sources: Education Week, Kansas City Star
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Report: Massachusetts Charters Need More Facilities Funding
According to the Boston Globe, a report being released Monday by the Colorado League of Charter Schools and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools outlines the facilities challenges faced by Massachusetts’ public charter schools. Massachusetts charter schools spend, on average, $342 on facilities beyond what they are allotted by the state, using an average of 7 percent of funds that could otherwise go toward classroom learning. “Charter school students should have the same amount of money paid for their education as their peers in the community,” said Marc Kenen, executive director of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association. “We’re hoping that the Legislature will see that charter students are getting the short end of the stick.” The study recommends increasing the per-pupil facilities allowance, and giving charter schools first access to buying unused public schools. “We’re not asking for anything except fairness,” said Kevin Andrews, founding headmaster of the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester.
Source: Boston Globe
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New Hampshire Charter School Funding Bill Moving Forward
According to the Nashua Telegraph, a New Hampshire bill to revert public charter school funding practices back to those in place before 2010 is moving forward, but the current moratorium on new charter schools is likely to remain in place for the time being. The proposed bill would permit the state to approve any number of charter schools and ensure state funding would be available. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ralph Boehm, said he hopes his bill can fix the unintended consequence of a funding law change made last year after the Department of Education gave lawmakers incorrect information regarding projected charter school enrollment. After the change, the state board enacted a moratorium on new charter schools. The bill is currently in the House Education Committee, where Boehm said it has strong support. He is hopeful that the bill could help ensure New Hampshire charter schools do not face another moratorium. “The need is there for these schools,” Boehm said.
Source: Nashua Telegraph
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Nashville Studies Charters for Keys to Success
In her Tennessean column, Gail Kerr praises Nashville’s traditional public schools for studying the techniques of the city’s successful public charter schools. Six Nashville schools -- Nashville Prep, STEM Preparatory Academy, Kipp Academy Nashville, Liberty Collegiate Academy, New Vision Academy and Cameron College Prep – “outperformed every other Metro middle school, even though a large majority of their students are economically disadvantaged.” The school board asked why. “The answer is simple, according to members of the Tennessee Charter Schools Association," Kerr writes. "Charters have autonomy and accountability…Charter leaders and principals make their own decisions on everything, including hiring and firing teachers. And if the school doesn’t get results, it’s gone." "Charters use practices that clearly work,” Kerr explains, including longer school days and years to help needy students catch up, high expectations for parent involvement and the belief that all students will go to college. Last week, Nashville’s school superintendent took a tour of KIPP and reorganized his staff to give principals more authority.
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Utah Bill Would Add Charter School Costs to Property Tax Notices
According to the Salt Lake Tribune , a proposed bill would require property tax notices to include the amount going toward charter school funding. Chris Bleak, president of the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, opposes the bill. He said the issue “is much more nuanced than I think this bill is sometimes making it out to be…There’s not money coming from the districts to the charter schools in kind of the way that it’s being portrayed …They’re all public schools and educating our kids, and we should be viewing it from a more global standpoint." In Utah, charters are funded largely through income tax revenue, just as traditional public schools are. Unlike school districts, they can’t raise property taxes on their own, so they also receive “local replacement money,” which comes in part from school districts. This fiscal year, nearly $78 million of that local replacement money came from the state and about $10 million came from school districts.
Source: Salt Lake Tribune
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North Carolina Charter School Fairs Mark Expansion
According to the News & Observer , over 1,000 people are expected to attend charter school fairs this week in the North Carolina cities of Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Charlotte. The events, sponsored by the North Carolina Public Charter Schools Association, will give parents information about the state’s 107 existing charter schools, the 25 new ones set to open in August and the more than 150 that have submitted letters to the state indicating they want to open in 2014. The expansion of charters in the state comes after lawmakers in 2011 lifted the 100-school cap on charters. More than 50,000 North Carolina children now attend charter schools. Joel Medley, director of the state Office of Charter Schools, said his office is seeking additional funding and staff to monitor the expanding number of charter schools. “The emphasis is going to be on quality, not quantity,” he said.
Source: News & Observer
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Preparing for Democracy at Democracy Prep
On his Education Week blog, Rick Hess recommends reading the AEI Program on American Citizenship’s case study of Harlem’s high-performing Democracy Prep charter school network, which enrolls more than 1,500 students at 6 campuses in New York City. The case study, "Charter schools as nation builders" shows Democracy Prep’s unique approach to civic education, which includes lobby days at the state capital, "Get Out The Vote" campaigns in which kids encourage local adults to vote, and weekly grade-level town halls. According to Hess, “At Democracy Prep, citizenship infuses every aspect of the school and enjoys the same import as academic instruction.” According to founder Seth Andrew, the schools’ Regents and SAT scores show “the more we focus on civic dispositions, skills, and knowledge, the better our scholars perform in English and math...I think Democracy Prep can prove that preparing kids for citizenship is something close to a 'best practice' in education."
Source: Education Week