Op-ed: Washington State's New Charter School Commission Can Learn From Other States
In a Bellingham Herald op-ed, Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington Bothell, urges the newly appointed nine members of the Washington State Charter School Commission to “take a thoughtful approach to reviewing the evidence from elsewhere and craft thoughtful oversight policies of their own” and then “regularly revisit those policies in order to reflect, learn and adapt based on the actual outcomes for charter school students.” Charter authorizers are “embarking on an effort to craft an approach to public oversight of public schools that is fundamentally different from the way things work now – a new approach that is unapologetic about focusing on results and closing schools that don’t work, and that ensures school improvement without dictating how it is done…Done well, the authorizers’ work will pay off in breakthrough results for Washington’s students and a new path forward for holding all schools to high standards of achievement.”
Source: Bellingham Herald
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Pennsylvania House Committee Considers Change to Virtual Charter Funding
According to the Herald-Standard, the Pennsylvania House Education Committee considered two bills Thursday which would reform the funding formula for virtual public charter schools. The changes would allow districts to deduct from charter school funding certain per-student expenditures for health, library and food services and extracurricular activities. The Department of Education would also send funding directly to charter schools, bypassing districts. Jeff Piccola, a former state senator who is now a member of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools’ board of directors, said the bills “ignore the detail and reality of education funding, are designed solely to appease demands from school districts that refuse to change, and are blind to the needs of parents and children who see cyber schools as saving their lives.” The bill would also change the length of charter school terms from three years to five years, and it would double to ten years the length of the renewal term.
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Study: Utah Charter Schools Boost District School Performance
According to the Deseret News, a study by University of Utah economist Mike Martineau shows that traditional public schools located within 10 miles of a charter school saw a boost in math, science and language arts test scores. Martineau analyzed scores on Utah state tests from the 2005-06 school year through the 2010-11 school year, controlling for district, white, Hispanic and total enrollment, as well as free and reduced lunch eligibility and student-to-faculty ratio. “This really means that charter schools in Utah can primarily serve a purpose of offering options, whatever the mission may be for that particular charter school, for students to attend them,” Martineau said. “At the same time, it simultaneously provides meaningful incentives for traditional public schools to increase achievement.”
Source: Deseret News
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Op-ed: Setting the Record Straight on Public Charter Schools in Ohio
In a Youngstown Vindicator op-ed, Stephanie Klupinski, vice president for legal and legislative affairs at the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, points out that a comparison of district and charter school funding that accounts for local, state, and federal revenue reveals that Ohio charter schools receive, on average, $2,000 less per pupil. “In a recent analysis by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools of all state charter school laws, Ohio’s ranks the lowest in terms of equitable funding.” Despite this, “Ohio’s urban charter schools consistently outperform the district schools from which most of them come. Last year, 40 percent of urban charters received a report card grade of Excellent or Effective, compared with only about one-fourth of urban district schools.” Klupinski encourages critics to recognize that public charter schools “increase the number of public school options available for students most in need, they raise the bar about what’s possible in education, and they help close the achievement gap.”
Source: Youngstown Vindicator
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Rocketship to Open Eight Schools in Nashville
According to the Tennessean , California-based Rocketship Education announced Thursday it had gained state permission to open the first of eight planned schools in Nashville in 2014. The Rocketship schools were approved by the Achievement School District, a state-controlled district empowered to take over the state’s lowest-performing five percent of schools and authorized to approve charter schools to serve the children in those low-performing schools. Rocketship co-founder, CEO and President Preston Smith said his organization was approved as a charter school provider in 2012 and has been making plans to open schools in Nashville for about 18 months. Rocketship plans to eventually enroll 4,000 Nashville students but will start by opening one school for about 500 students in 2014. Contingent on success, the company will continue to open one school each year.
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DC Public Charter School Board Tries to Reduce 'Zero Tolerance' Policies
According to the Washington Examiner, the D.C. Public Charter School Board is encouraging charter schools to eliminate their "zero tolerance" discipline policies in an effort to reduce the number of students being suspended and expelled, Executive Director Scott Pearson said Thursday. "On the whole, charter schools expel and suspend too many students," Pearson said. Some actions, like bringing a weapon to school or threatening to hurt or kill someone, are widely accepted or even federally mandated as actions that merit a school automatically suspending or expelling students. However, zero-tolerance policies for students who get into fights or bring drugs to school are less productive, Pearson said, "because it effectively ties their hands when they're making discipline decisions." Officials at Friendship Public Schools, which serves 3,939 students on six campuses and KIPP DC, which serves 1,397 on nine campuses said they do not practice zero tolerance, but both networks suspend students caught fighting or carrying drugs.
Source: Washington Examiner