Wisconsin Governor Proposes Statewide Charter Authorizer
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed Sunday to allow a statewide board to authorize public charter schools, independent of local school districts. Higher-performing districts would be able to veto new charters; lower-performing districts would not. Currently, public charter schools independent from local school districts exist only in Milwaukee - where the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UMW) and the Common Council can authorize charter schools - and in Racine, where UWM authorizes an independent charter school. "I think it's a positive step to have additional authorizers opening high-quality schools," said Sean Roberts, executive director of Milwaukee Charter School Advocates. Gov. Walker said he might limit his charter proposal to just students from failing schools within a target district.
Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Back to Top
Texas Bill Would End Charter Cap, Allow Facilities Funding
According to KUT News and other sources, Texas Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick filed a bill Monday which would create a new state entity to authorize public charter schools and lift the 215-school cap on the number of charter operators allowed in the state. Patrick’s bill would also allow charters to receive public funding for their facilities. Patrick said lifting the cap “will give Texas parents, including the nearly 100,000 currently on a charter school waiting list, more choices to find the best education for their child." The legislation would also make it easier for local school boards to convert their schools into charters. “Texas public charter schools are proud to work with Sen. Dan Patrick on legislation that will strengthen the quality of charters, streamline the process to encourage more innovation and make necessary changes so that students are well-served in the school of their choice,” said David Dunn, executive director of Texas Charter Schools Association.
Sources: KUT News, Your Houston News, KBTX
Back to Top
Mississippi Charter Law Could Become National Model
According to the Clarion Ledger, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) has repeatedly ranked Mississippi’s charter school law as one of the worst in the nation, but the state is in a position to become a model for the rest of the country. Bills passed recently by Mississippi’s House and Senate are strong on accountability, said Todd Ziebarth, NAPCS senior vice president of state advocacy and support, because they include strong processes for contracting and application, clear oversight and monitoring provisions, and clear processes around renewal, nonrenewal and revocation of charters. “There are a few things in there that draw on some lessons learned about how to do this right,” Ziebarth said, including giving charters autonomy and flexibility around “educational programming and staff and budgeting that they need in order to innovate.”
Source: Clarion Ledger
Back to Top
New Hampshire Governor Proposes Increasing Charter School Funding
According to the Concord Monitor, New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan last week proposed boosting state funding for public charter schools, a move that would help lift the moratorium officials have placed on new schools. Hassan’s budget contains an additional $18 million over the next two years to help new charter schools open and allow the 17 existing schools to enroll more students. In September, the State Board of Education said it wouldn’t approve any more charter schools because there wasn’t enough money in the budget to finance them. Board Chairman Tom Raffio warned that applications for new schools will continue to come through before the next two-year state budget is approved. “Every other year, we’re going to be in this situation,” Raffio said. “So we need to address that.” Last week, the House Educaiton Committee endorsed a bill to lift the cap on charter school funding and end the moratorium by removing the legal block to financing future schools.
Source: Concord Monitor
Back to Top
Tennessee Speaker Supports Statewide Charter Authorizer
According to Nashville Public Radio , Tennessee’s Speaker of the House Beth Harwell is behind a proposed bill which would allow the state to authorize new public charter schools in Nashville and Memphis. “I believe we have a responsibility in this state for the most local person to have an option here, and the local person here is the parent,” Harwell said. “And I have a lot of parents – not only in my district, but others – who wanted this option within our public school system.”
Source: Nashville Public Radio
Back to Top
Op-ed: Chicago Charter School Freeze Hurts Kids
In a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed , Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, writes that a moratorium on city charter schools being considered by the City Council “puts on hold the hopes of thousands of families.” Charter school waiting lists already hold 19,000 students. More than 224 Chicago school buildings are enrolled at less than 50 percent capacity, while in other parts of the city, schools are overcrowded. “A holistic school facilities solution is possible that includes consolidation, phasing in new school options and expanding school facilities in targeted neighborhoods,” Broy writes. “We should use new school options, including high-quality charter schools, co-location arrangements and similar models to reduce overcrowding and create incentives to school providers to locate in areas where the need is greatest… the charter school moratorium repeats the mistake of focusing solely on utilization rates and enrollment figures when the real issue is how to create great schools.”
Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Back to Top
Two D.C. Council Members Reject Withholding Charter Funding
According to the Washington Times , at least two D.C. Council members have said they would not support a proposal by the chairman of the education committee to deliberately withhold funds from public charter schools in order to slow their growth. “I would not support that,” said Tommy Wells, an education panel member. “We can’t do that,” said council member Jim Graham. “It’s very important that there be equity in the dual system. We cannot afford to do anything less than equal.” Graham also said charters have long faced “a huge problem with facilities” and that the city needs to do a “better job of making school facilities available to charters.” Ramona Edelin, executive director of the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools, said: “Taxpayer funds by law must follow the child in the District of Columbia, and legislators should not disrupt the flow of those funds in order to slow down the growth of the charter school sector, which parents are clearly choosing.”
Source: Washington Times
Back to Top
Charter School's Success Boosts St. Louis Neighborhoods
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch profiled how families have migrated over the past six years from the suburbs to live within the attendance boundaries of St. Louis’ high- performing City Garden Montessori charter school, in a sign that good schools could reverse decades of urban population loss. The school, which received a perfect score on a rigorous new state assessment, intentionally drew its attendance boundaries to draw a racially and socioeconomically diverse set of students. Robbyn Wahby, education liaison to Mayor Francis Slay, envisions charter schools like City Garden springing up across the city where they are needed most. “This is not an anomaly. This is our strategy,” she said. “Now we need to replicate.” She has urged City Garden repeatedly to open a second school. She would also like to see KIPP Inspire, Gateway Science Academy and St. Louis Language Immersion grow.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Back to Top
Farm Theme Boosts Enrollment at Rural Kansas Charter School
Yahoo News profiled the Walton Rural Life Center, a kindergarten-through-fourth grade public charter school in rural Kansas that uses agriculture to teach students about math, science and economics. The school has a waiting list and has given Walton, a town with a population of 235, a boost, according to Mayor Evan Johnson. "It's been a priority for us and a source of pride," he said. Students care for the school’s farm animals, sell eggs, make yarn from sheep wool and grow vegetables for school snacks. "The kids love it, and they are learning," said Principal Natise Vogt. Walton students also learn about energy use – a wind turbine generates power for the school's greenhouse – as well as recycling, composting and reducing waste. For three years straight, 100 percent of students have tested at proficient or above in state assessment tests. Walton is currently trying to raise $300,000 to build two more classrooms to accommodate more students.
Source: Yahoo News