Report: 2012 Brought Political Victories, New Laws for Charters
According to Education Week’s Charters & Choice blog, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools' (NAPCS) annual report ranking states against the organization's model charter law shows that 2012 brought political and legislative victories. Nina Rees, NAPCS president and chief executive officer, said the passage of both a Georgia ballot initiative and a charter schools law in Washington (after four unsuccessful attempts) makes 2012 “historic.” Rees said voters' support for charter schools could indicate an increased familiarity with the concept. Hawaii, Idaho, and Missouri lifted caps on charter school growth, while ten states expanded the types of entities that can authorize charter schools or passed quality control measures. Connecticut, Hawaii, and Utah also improved funding for charter school operations and facilities. Next year’s report will aim to take into account implementation of charter laws, based on data such as attendance, student achievement and graduation rates.
Source: Education Week
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Colorado, Delaware Respond to Charter Schools Law Rankings
According to EdNews Colorado, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) ranked Colorado’s public charter schools law fourth in the nation, up from seventh last year. “Colorado moved up in the rankings because the state improved its quality control policies,” said NAPCS vice president Todd Ziebarth. Colorado League of Charter Schools President Jim Griffin said he considers the annual NAPCS report the most reliable measure of state charter policy. Griffin said facilities funding remains one of the largest challenges facing charters in Colorado. In a related WDEL story, Delaware moved up a spot in the rankings to 21st. Kendall Massett, executive director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network, said to improve Delaware’s law further, the state’s 22 charter schools need equitable funding. "Right now, they get on average about $3,000 less per pupil than other traditional schools in our state so we would like to see that change," Massett said.
Sources: EdNews Colorado, WDEL
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Most New Jersey Charter School Facilities Outdated, Analysis Finds
According to the Star Ledger, a study by the New Jersey Charter Schools Association, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the Colorado League of Charter Schools found that almost 75 percent of New Jersey's charter schools use school buildings built before 1970, and a third are housed in buildings not originally built as schools. Most charter schools lack access to athletic fields, science labs, art or music rooms. Yet charter schools spend $1,418 per student on facilities – which translates into enough to hire more than eight additional teachers. About a third of surveyed charters are located nearby an underutilized public school building nearby, but only 11 percent are housed in district buildings. The analysis recommends that New Jersey consider ways to provide better facilities for charter schools, such as a per-pupil facilities allowance, state grant or loan programs for charter school facilities, equal access to facility funding programs available to traditional public schools and equal access to bonding authority.
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Report: Idaho Charters Outperform Traditional Schools, but Lag in Growth
According to the Twin Falls Times-News, a new report from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation shows Idaho charter schools outperforming traditional public schools on fourth and eighth grade reading and math assessments. Although an amended law last year removed the cap on the number of new charter schools, Idaho charters are still lagging other states in growth. Funding mechanisms and oversight for new charter school development are weak and inequitable, the report says. In addition, nearly 60 percent of Idaho charter school students live in cities or suburbs, rather than rural areas. Idaho’s 43 public charter schools have waiting lists totaling about 7,000 students.
Source: Twin Falls Times-News
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Charter Schools Association Director Testifies in Texas School Finance Case
According to the Galveston Daily News , David Dunn, executive director of the Texas Charter Schools Association, was the final witness in a school finance case on Wednesday which involves more than 600 school districts and charter school operators. Dunn argued that the courts should compel the Texas Legislature to ease the 215-charter statewide cap, while providing funding for charter school facilities. Dunn said that if the judge finds that Texas is obligated to provide facilities funding, it will be the first such decision of its kind in the country. About 200 charter operators run more than 500 campuses in Texas, educating about three percent of the state’s students. The number of students on charter school waitlists jumped from about 56,000 in 2010 to about 101,000 currently. About 100 operators are vying for the state's six remaining available charter school licenses. "We're not asking for a perfect system," Dunn said. "We're asking for a fair system."
Source: Galveston Daily News
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Nevada Schools Officials Advocate for More Charters
According to the Las Vegas Sun , Nevada State Schools Superintendent Jim Guthrie advocated for more public charter schools in Nevada during a roundtable discussion Tuesday. Nevada has 32 charter schools, a number which Guthrie said must double or triple to create a competitive environment to improve public education. "We need a critical mass of choice," he said. Last legislative session, Nevada became the seventh state in the nation to adopt an independent chartering board. This legislative session, the Clark County School District is sponsoring a bill which would allow charter schools to use district facilities, which is currently prohibited under state law. The Public Charter School Authority hopes to sponsor a bill to create a revolving loan account for charters to lease classroom space and purchase equipment. "We're trying to build an environment that is predictive and anchored in best practices," said Steve Canavero, the authority’s director.
Source: Las Vegas Sun
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Momentum Around Charter Schools in Boston Builds
On Boston Magazine’s Boston Daily blog , Jason Schwartz notes that Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s State of the City address included a call for eliminating the cap on in-district charter schools. Boston currently has six in-district charters, where teachers are unionized but work rules are more flexible. Menino pointed to UP Academy. “They took over the Gavin School in South Boston, taught the same kids and had great success,” he said. “UP had the highest growth in math of any middle school in the state.” According to Scwartz, the momentum around public charter schools in Boston may be building again. A group of state legislators recently filed a bill to remove the cap on charters altogether. “That Menino, a longtime charter foe, vocally supported an unlimited number of in-district ones is another big step forward,” Schwartz writes.
Source: Boston Magazine
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The Growth of Public Charter Schools in Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Public School Notebook explored issues around the growth of public charter schools in that city, which according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has the fourth largest charter enrollment in the country. Lori Shorr, chief education officer for Mayor Nutter, said the reasons more than 60,000 families have chosen charters are clear. “The good charters have been very nimble, they’ve been innovative, and they’ve been mission-driven.” As for predictions that 40 percent of district students will attend charters within five years, Shorr said: “I don’t think I see it as desirable or undesirable. We need to think in terms of which schools are doing a good job with kids.” In a related article , Mastery Public Schools spokesperson Courtney Collins-Shapiro said: “The issue we should be talking about isn’t whether we should have public charter or district schools. They are all public schools. The issue is that we’ve still got 40,000 to 50,000 kids in low-performing schools in Philadelphia, and we have to work together to solve that problem.”
Sources: Philadelphia Public School Notebook here and here
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Georgia Charter Schools Commission Holds First Meeting Since its Rebirth
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution , Georgia’s revived State Charter Schools Commission held its first meeting Wednesday. The commission ceased operating 20 months ago when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled it did not have the authority to approve and direct local funding to charter schools. It was brought back to life with the passage of a constitutional amendment in November, which clarified the state’s power to authorize charter schools. Tony Lowden, a new commission member who is also the executive director of a Macon-area program for at-risk schoolchildren, said the commission’s rebirth is timely. “We have to break the cycle of poor education, poor jobs and poor communities,” he said. “I don’t know if this is the silver bullet, but I’d sure like to take a couple shots at it.”
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Bill Calls For Charter Schools in Montana
According to Beartooth NBC, a Montana House bill would bring public charter schools to the state for the first time. Montana is one of eight states in the country without a charter schools law. Rep. Austin Knudsen, the bill’s sponsor, said some students do not fit in the traditional education system, and parents deserve more choices.”The data shows us that one size does not fit all in Montana,” he said.
Source: Beartooth NBC