Minnesota’s Charter Law Ranked No. 1
In a Forest Lake Times column, Joe Nathan, director of the Center for School Change, celebrated Minnesota’s public charter school law, which was ranked number one in the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools annual ratings. “Thanks to a strong law, suburban and rural, as well as urban Minnesota families have high quality options, including district and charter schools,” Nathan writes. Over the last decade, the number of Minnesota students enrolled in charters increased by almost 30,000, while the number of students attending district schools declined by more than 40,000 students. “Gov. Mark Dayton and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius have wisely recommended that district and charters spend more time learning from each other, and less time debating which is better, district or charter public schools,” Nathan writes. Cam Hedland, director of Lakes International charter school, said that while the top ranking is “a fine accomplishment for our state…equitable funding is not available for facilities and capital funding.”
Source: Forest Lake Times
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D.C. Public Charter School Enrollment Outpaces School District
According to the Washington Post, figures released Wednesday by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education show that enrollment at D.C. public charter schools is growing faster than that of the city’s traditional public schools. Charters currently enroll 34,673, or 43 percent, of the city’s public school students, a 10 percent jump from fall 2011, continuing more than a decade of steady growth. The school district’s enrollment grew one percent from 2011 and 2012, to 45,557. “We must take special note that the District of Columbia is the first ever city to have a public education system approaching a 50-50 balance in enrollment between traditional public schools and public charters,” D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said Tuesday in his State of the District address. “We need an approach to public education in the district that clarifies the roles, responsibilities and expectations of both our traditional and public charter schools.” Gray said his education cabinet was developing “a citywide vision and roadmap for public education.”
Sources: Washington Post article, Mayor Gray's speech
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Montana Charter School Bill Advances
According to the Billings Gazette, a bill which would allow the creation of public charter schools in Montana passed the state House Education Committee with a 10-8 vote on Wednesday. “I really, strongly believe that the idea of (school) choice is something that should be looked at,” said state Sen. Dave Lewis.
Source: Billings Gazette
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Florida House Committee Passes Co-Location Bill
According to StateImpact, a Florida House committee approved a bill which would allow public charter schools to use empty school district facilities in exchange for paying for maintenance. The bill would also bar charter school employees from serving on the school’s governing board. Jim Horne, president of the Florida Charter School Alliance, said the charter movement had grown in Florida to more than 500 schools serving over 200,000 students. “Yet, we still have over 80,000 students on a waiting list to try to get into the charter school of their choice. So we think legislation like this that helps move things along, that helps to create greater access is a very good thing,” Horne said.
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Mississippi Advocate: Charters Are Innovative
The Hattiesburg American interviewed Erika Berry, advocacy coordinator of the Mississippi Coalition for Public Charter Schools, about charter school bills recently passed by the Mississippi House and Senate last month. Both bills would create a seven-member board to approve and oversee charter schools and would give districts rated “A” or “B” a veto over charters in their jurisdictions. The House bill would give “C” districts a similar veto and cap charters at 15 per year. Berry called charters “hotbeds of innovation” and said failing districts could be impacted positively by them. “These schools need to learn from a better example,” she said. If the House and Senate can agree on a common charter bill that is signed by the governor, Berry expects the first charter school could be operating in Mississippi by fall 2015. “In districts rated ‘D’ and ‘F,’ those kids don’t have time to waste.”
Source: Hattiesburg American
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Idaho Charter School Families Rally at Statehouse
According to KIVI-TV and KTVB , hundreds of public charter school families gathered on the steps of Idaho’s statehouse on Wednesday for an annual School Choice Rally. Students talked to state lawmakers about how statewide cuts to education have hit charter schools hard. "Most of the challenges are because of lack of property funding, property tax funding and facility needs," said state Senator Cliff Bayer. Five of the six Idaho charter schools which have closed since 1998 have done so due to a lack of funding. "There will very likely be measures considered in the future that will do something to address some of the challenges that the charter schools face," said Marilyn Whitney of the Idaho Charter School Commission. Last year, lawmakers removed the cap on how many charter schools could open each year. "The commission is always looking at ways that they can continue to support charter schools," said Whitney.
Sources: KIVI-TV , KTVB
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New York Public Charter School Families Visit State Lawmakers
According to Gotham Schools , more than 1,200 New York public charter school students, parents, staff and advocates met with their state lawmakers in Albany on Tuesday, arriving via 38 buses. New York City is now home to 159 of the state’s 208 charter schools. Organizers said 111 schools were represented Tuesday. The issues discussed ranged from giving charter schools the right to operate pre-kindergarten programs to the DREAM Act, which would give to financial aid to college students who are undocumented immigrants.
Source: Gotham Schools
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Boston Mayor Proposes End to Cap, New Rules for In-District Charters
According to Education Week, legislation proposed by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino would end the cap on the number of public charter schools that districts can run, but also impose new rules on them. The proposal would require charters to reserve seats for English-language learners and special education students, and would give district leaders more say in the grade configurations and locations of new charters in their jurisdictions. The new rules would also incorporate a weighted formula for charter school funding. Kevin Andrews, chairman of the Boston Alliance of Charter Schools and co-chairman of a compact between charter and district leaders, said charter operators are concerned about some of the proposals. "We as a charter community know that we have to do better to serve the growing number of ELLs in our communities," Andrews said. "But this is something that should be voluntary and not legislated." Andrews also said he welcomed the mayor's willingness to make education reform a priority.
Source: Education Week