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Charter schools win funding victory in Georgia

Earlier this week, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously upheld a simple principle of law: school districts cannot unilaterally reduce charter school funding in an attempt to shore up their own weakened financial position. The dispute arose when the Atlanta Public Schools decided to change years of practice by reducing funding for every charter school in Atlanta. The district did so by calculating a proportionate share of the district’s pension liability and subtracting that from the charter school payments. The problem with this approach? The law doesn’t allow it. Instead, the law sets out a very specific process to follow for allocating money to charter schools. The trial court judge saw through the district’s arguments and ruled in favor of the charter schools on all counts. As expected, the Atlanta school district appealed the decision. On Monday of this week, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously upheld the trial court. In the judicial version of a smack down, the court agreed with the charter schools that districts cannot simply ignore the law and fund schools at their own discretion. To put it in legal terms, a district cannot unilaterally change a bilateral contract. Why is this case significant? First, it means that the charter schools will be reimbursed for the more than $3 million the district has illegally withheld, which means that the students will not suffer because of the district’s actions. In a deft move by the plaintiffs’ lawyers, the court entered an order requiring the district to deposit the disputed funds in the registry of court, which will make disbursing the funds to schools straightforward. Second, districts routinely use similar methods to withhold funding from charter schools that is due under law—in many cases for “services” charters never requested and the law never contemplated. I worked at the lead authorizer in the state of Georgia for many years and can think of countless examples of this. The court ruling sets precedent in case any future district attempts some funding shift, so the real impact is far greater than the $3 million. Finally, this also illustrates perfectly why litigation is a key lever in our school reform battles and why having a national charter school legal defense strategy is critically important. As long as districts retain authorizing power, they will have leverage over the schools they authorize. In such a situation, courts provide a key check and balance. With precedent now firmly established, Atlanta charters can get back to the work of educating students. That is something we should all be thankful for. Andrew Broy is the president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. Learn More: Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Supreme Court rules in favor of charter schools in pension fight

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NAPCS in the News 
  • “Early Childhood Education Is a Winner for Policymakers,” op-ed by Nina Rees (president & CEO), U.S. News & World Report, Sept. 16
News to Know
  • “Mississippi Charter Board Confronts Lack of Funding,” Clarion Ledger, Sept. 20
  • “High-Performing D.C. Charters to Lease Shuttered District Schools,” Washington Post, Sept. 19
  • “Group to Set Standards for Charter Schools Wanting Columbus Levy Funds,” Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 18
  • “Maine Charters Find Success with Special Needs Students,” MPBN, Sept. 17
  • “Gov. Bobby Jindal: New Orleans is Leading the Way in Education Reform,” Times-Picayune op-ed, Sept. 16
Audience Favorites Facebook— Parents care about early childhood education and policymakers across the country are listening. Read Nina’s take on how could we make child care and preschool even more effective for our children. Twitter— @charteralliance Worth repeating: no evidence that charter schools push out low-performers bit.ly/18t5ioj You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.

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NAPCS in the News
  • “Obama’s Last Chance on School Reform,” op-ed by Nina Rees (president & CEO), U.S. News & World Report,  Sept. 9
  • “Charting a New Path,” National Alliance for Public Charter Schools collaboration cited, Delta Business Journal, Sept. 10
News to Know
  • “Boston Mayoral Candidates Face Off in Education Debate,” Boston Globe, Sept. 13
  • “Spokane District Approved as Public Charter School Authorizer,” Spokesman-Review, Sept. 12
  • “North Carolina Could Get 170 New Charter Schools in 2015,” News & Observer, Sept. 11
  • “Op-ed: In Tennessee, Charters Play a Key Role,” Tennessean, Sept. 10
  • “Kentucky Legislative Education Committee to Hold Hearing on Charter School Reform,” WFPL, Sept. 9
Audience Favorites Facebook— When state law and federal guidelines clash, what is a school to do? http://publiccharters.org/Blog/Default.aspx?id=509 Twitter— MT @QualityCharters: Charter schools play key role by @UNCF president Dr. Lomax #1millionlives bit.ly/14CUjNN via@Tennessean You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.

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News to Know
  • “Massachusetts Flunks Charter School Test,” Boston Herald op-ed, Sept. 6
  • “Ohio State Sen. Schiavoni wants to tighten charter school rules,” Tribune-Chronicle, Sept. 5
  • “Maine Charter Schools Break New Ground,” Kennebec Journal, Sept. 4
  • “Bill Puts Public Charter Schools Back in Spotlight in Kentucky,” NKY, Sept. 3
Audience Favorites  Facebook— New on The Charter Blog, a Thomas B. Fordham Institute study reveals surprising finds about parent’s expectation for their child’s education. Are you a Jeffersonian, a Striver, a Pragmatist, or something else altogether? Twitter— @charteralliance In an effort to support workforce preparedness, D.C. grants $2.8 mil for career academies at local schools wapo.st/17HCuKh You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.

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NAPCS in the News  News to Know
  • “Public Charter School Results Set High Bar for Los Angeles’ Public Schools,”Huffington Post, Aug. 30
  • “Appeals Could Impact Pennsylvania Public Charter School Funding,” Pittsburgh Business Times, Aug. 29
  • “Achievement First Builds Collaboration with Hartford District,” Connecticut Plus, Aug. 28
  • “Public Charter Schools Redefine Arc of Teaching Career,” New York Times, Aug. 27
  • “Charter Schools a Growing Trend in Florida,” Herald Tribune, Aug. 26
Audience Favorites Facebook— Thank you to the outstanding charter schools around this country who are helping hundreds of thousands of minority children fulfill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s dream these 50 years later. Twitter— @charteralliance #OH report card shows state’s best #charterschools are in disadvantaged Cleveland neighborhoods#provingtheimpossible bit.ly/16Oh66W You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.

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NAPCS in the News
  • “Op-Ed: Passing Charter School Law Will Widen Opportunities,” op-ed co-authored by Nina Rees (NAPCS President & CEO) and Joe Williams (President of Democrats for Education Reform), Courier-Journal, Aug. 21
  • “Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell Join Push for Kentucky Charter Schools,” Nina Rees quoted, WFPL, Aug. 22
  • “Another attempt to promote charter schools in Kentucky,” Nina Rees quoted, WDRB, Aug. 22
  • “Charter school summit looks toward passing legislation,” Nina Rees quoted, WDRB, Aug. 22
  • “Ky. leaders discuss charter school adoption,” Nina Rees quoted, WHAS, Aug. 22
  • “Rand Paul Teaming Up With Dems? For This Cause, He Thinks It’s Worth It,” Nina Rees quoted, Huffington Post, Aug. 22
  • “Kentucky education summit focuses on charter schools,” Starlee Rhoades (VP of Communications) and NAPCS data cited,Bowling Green Daily News, Aug. 22
  • “Push For Charters Underway in Kentucky,” Nina Rees op-ed cited, Education Week Charters & Choice blog, Aug. 22
  • “Hal Heiner Launches Second Charter School Organization Ahead of Louisville Panel,” NAPCS partnership cited, WFPL, Aug. 21
  • “Michael Bloomberg’s Legacy,’” op-ed by Nina Rees, U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 20
  • “Number of Charters on Native American Reservations Grows,” NAPCS issue brief cited, Education Week’s Charters & Choice blog, Aug. 20
  • “States Continue Increasing or Eliminating Caps on Charter Schools,” Todd Ziebarth (Sr. Vice President of State Advocacy) and Nina Rees quoted, redefinED, Aug. 19
News to Know
  • “South Carolina Governor Calls for More Public Charter Schools,” FOX Carolina, Aug. 23
  • “California Supreme Court to Decide Charter School Access to LAUSD Campuses,” Los Angeles Daily News, Aug. 22
  • “Some D.C. Charters’ Salary Ranges Include Teachers-In-Training,” Washington Post, Aug. 21
  • “National Education Reform Groups Weigh in on Boston Mayoral Race,” Boston Globe, Aug. 20
  • “Arizona School Funding Overhaul Proposed,” Arizona Daily Star, Aug. 19
Audience Favorites Facebook— ‘Every parent has dreams for the children,’ say NAPCS president Nina Rees and Democrats for Education Reform executive director Joe Williams in a column in the The Courier-Journal calling on Kentucky lawmakers to pass a charter school law. Please like and share this column with your friends and family and help us make Kentucky state #43 to allow charter schools! Twitter— @EducateKY: It’s about time we work to pass Charter laws in KY. Parents deserve choice. @DFER_News @ntlBAEO@charteralliance You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.

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NAPCS in the News
  • “GAO: Many Charter Schools Are Not Reporting Data on ELLs,” joint statement by NAPCS and NACSA cited, Education Week Charters & Choice blog, Aug. 15
  • “Purcell: Charter schools deserve equitable funding,” NAPCS waitlist data cited, The State, Aug. 15
  • “The Latest Charter School,” NAPCS total enrollment data cited, KSEE, Aug. 15
  • “DPS’s door-to-door campaign aims to tout individual schools to win back students,” NAPCS market share data cited,Detroit Free Press, Aug. 14
  • “Learning From the ‘Smartest Kids in the World,’” op-ed by Nina Rees (President & CEO), U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 12
News to Know
  • “Most Connecticut Charters Outperform Host Districts,” Norwalk Plus, Aug. 16
  • “Pennsylvania Charter Schools Appeal to Secretary of Education for Funding Increase,” Morning Call, Aug. 15
  • “Louisiana State Board Paves Way for Seven New Baton Rouge Charters,” Times-Picayune, Aug. 14
  • “Candidate for Virginia Governor Proposes Better Charter School Law,” Washington Post, Aug. 13
  • “New York City’s Success Academy Schools the Critics,” New York Post, Aug. 12
Audience Favorites Facebook— Public charter schools are growing on Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) lands across the country–increasingly providing Native communities with a viable schooling option to meet their educational needs. http://www.publiccharters.org/publication/?id=1113 Twitter— @charteralliance New Documentary, We the People, spotlights @parentrev struggle to bring choice to L.A. public schools thebea.st/13CPpdR You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.

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NAPCS in the News
  • “School Grading Scandal Only Hurts Students,” op-ed by Nina Rees (President & CEO), U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 5
  • “Virginia Governor’s Education Summit Highlights Public Charter Schools,” Russ Simnick (senior director of state advocacy) listed a panelist, In the Capital, Aug. 5
  • “Charting a New Course,” NAPCS Dashboard data cited, San Diego Jewish Journal, Aug. 5
News to Know
  • “CREDO Study Finds Strong Results for Louisiana Charters,” Times-Picayune, Aug. 9
  • “Op-Ed: Setting Facts Straight on Chicago’s Charter Schools,” Chicago Sun-Times, Aug. 8
  • “Charter Boom Shifts North Carolina Education Landscape,” Charlotte Observer, Aug. 7
  • “Mississippi Governor Appoints Public Charter School Board Members,” Clarion Ledger, Aug. 6
  • “$4.5 Million Grant for District-Charter Partnerships in New York City,” New York Daily News, Aug. 5
Audience Favorites Facebook— Six new charter schools are opening this month in Charlotte—that’s great news for families! The Charlotte Observerprofiled one of the schools, Invest Collegiate, today. Twitter—@Lisa_Grover: Milestone in Maine as charter school graduates its first students You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.

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Media Round Up

NAPCS in the News  “Help Support the Common Core,” op-ed by Nina Rees (President & CEO), U.S. News & World Report op-ed, July 29 News to Know
  • “Maine Governor Hopes for ‘Many, Many More’ Public Charter Schools,” Education Week, Aug. 2
  • “Poll: Most Newark Residents Want More Charter Schools,” Newark Patch, Aug. 1
  • “Editorial: D.C. Public Education is on a Healthy Trajectory,” Washington Post, July 31
  • “U.S. Senators Tout Public Charter School Success,” Tennessean, July 30
  • “Arizona Charter Schools File Suit to Prohibit State from Taking Back Funds,” Arizona Republic, July 29
Audience Favorites Facebook— A new NAPCS report looks at changes to state charter school laws around the country over the last three years. It’s been a good run: 35 states improved their laws; 16 states lifted caps. See how your state did here. Twitter— @charteralliance Props to DCPS for great results academic results–and to all the charter schools leading the way! via @washingtonpost wapo.st/18LCB9a You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.

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NAPCS in the News
  • “Video Opinion: NAPCS CEO Nina Rees,” Nina Rees (President & CEO) discusses the U.S. House of Representatives’ recent revision of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law and the role of charter schools in education reform, Wall Street Journal’sVideo Opinion, July 26
  • “Charters Struggle in Search for Affordable Space,” NAPCS facilities report cited, Education Week here and here, July 25
  • “National Ed Reform Leader to Idaho Charter School Network,” Nina Rees quoted in press release, PR Newswire, July 25
  • “Fund Charter Schools,” Nina Rees op-ed, National Review, July 24
  •  “Title I Money Would Follow Students to Charters Under U.S. House Bill,” Nina Rees quoted, Education Week’s Charters & Choice blog, July 22
News to Know
  • “States Rework Policies on Charter Buildings,” Education Week, July 26
  • “Report: Fewer D.C. Charter Schools Have Financial Problems,” Washington Post, July 25
  • “California Charter Leaders Pleased with New Funding System,” EdSource, July 24
  • “Smart Cities: Where Districts & Charters Are Partners,” Education Week, July 23
  • “In Nevada, a Stampede for School Choice,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 22
Audience Favorites Facebook— What can Congress do to help charter schools? In NRO today, NAPCS president Nina Rees says: Expand funding for start-ups and expansions and roll back regulations that don’t lead to improved student learning. Twitter— @Ninacharters: more start-up/expansion funding and less regulation from the feds will help#charterschools natl.re/18ycAKD via @NRO You can stay up to date on all the developments in the public charter school sector by subscribing to our regular news updates…Sign up here.