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Newswire: November 27, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 32

WE’RE BACK. Okay, stop the calls and emails. We’ve heard you! You like our insightful and relevant commentary and news vignettes better than anyone’s, and you’ve told us loud and clear that we need to step it up. We’ve loved hearing that we write what you’re thinking and provide useful information that helps you do your job better. As we shared when we stopped a few months back, we took a pause and began providing you daily news clips instead, available on our website, and stepped up our News & Analysis section so that you’d have ready access to MORE news and MORE information. But, websites are so passé, and you apparently like getting millions of emails more than you like going to check out what you’ve missed online, so because you are the reason we exist to fight and to create more choice and accountability for all children, Newswire is back. Enjoy — and keep in touch.

CH,CH,CHANGES… Maybe? Not so much? Washington will be different in January, not the same, as some are suggesting. We’ll be here reporting and working and yes, pushing to make sure we don’t get more regulation over reform, that we don’t make inadvertent and frankly, illogical decisions about spending and accountability, like the proposals being discussed that would in effect put the feds in charge of determining what charter accountability is all about. What? You didn’t know about that? While accountability for traditional public schools is discussed in terms of school improvement grants and turn around models, proposals for charter school accountability are much more highly regulated, taking a movement born to welcome entrepreneurial enterprise and demonstrate performance-based accountability and turning it into a new “system” that requires a heavy hand from federal policymakers. Click here to read Feds Work to Regulate Charter Schools.

DC INSANITY. It just doesn’t stop. First, the DC Schools Chancellor announces that she will be closing 20 traditional public schools in Washington, largely because of under enrollment and poor performance. But instead of opening those buildings to growing charter schools, which now serve more than 43% of DC school children, she’s keeping them for ‘future’ growth and use. Meanwhile, smelling weakness in district support for charters, Washington Teachers’ Union President Nathan Saunders is calling on Congress and the City Council to unionize the charters. While it’s unlikely he’ll succeed, they will devote considerable resources to this battle, and cause intentional confusion in the public and distress for charter schools. Hmmm — and these are the unions who have supposedly gotten reform religion? Probably was just the election year politicking we see every four years.

SPEAKING OF FLIPPING… That the Philadelphia school district is bankrupt — financially and educationally — the School Reform Commission — without public input or legislation — has suspended all charter school expansion, even though the courts have said that technically charters do not need permission to expand.

COUNT DOWN TO SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK. The school choice movement is a big tent, with everything from online learning to full-blown vouchers that continue to withstand legal and administrative challenges and provide a critical lifeline to children often in dire need of strong, accountable schools. Such choices are also a reminder in the face of renewed regulation and control over charter schools that having freedom and flexibility to manage a school often ensures excellence and responsiveness to the needs of those served. As many legislatures prepare for new sessions in January and states from North Carolina to Tennessee poised to advance full school choice legislation, it’s a great time to celebrate the freedom in education that millions of parents so dearly value — and that more need. National School Choice Week is bringing together literally thousands of organizations for a week long education and awareness campaign that is grounded in the reality of life lived outside of the policy and cynical political environments that all too often get in the way of educating kids. Join them — and us — as we learn more about what school choice can do for all of us.

CER LIVE. The team is LIVE at the Excellence in Action National Summit this week. We hope to see you there! For those of you not in town this week, be sure to follow us on Twitter @edreform for breaking news and insights.

In Case You Missed It!…

Much talk continues in Washington and around the country about the election’s impact on education reform. Much was said before, analyzing the prospects for real reform and whether the candidates’ track record at national and state levels jived with their words. When the fight was over, we offered our congratulations — and cautionary advice — to President Obama and some thoughts on what the Republicans could have and should have done better. With a few weeks and a holiday since passed, we thought you might want to refresh your memory and be prepared to help us all move forward.