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Equity Plus Reform

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As is expected but not always evident of highly regarded newspapers, the Washington Post brought to light a serious issue that not only pertains to the District of Columbia charter schools but charter schools across the country.

Late last week, the DC Mayor’s Office released a report that revealed DC charter schools are receiving significantly less per-pupil funding than traditional public schools. The report found that in spite of the spirit of current laws that call for funding equity, traditional schools still receive significantly more money for both educational and administrative purposes.

Although this particular report could not adequately assess facilities funding, it has been well documented that charter schools nationwide face facility-funding shortfalls, often due to restrictive state laws.

Overall, funding disadvantages present an unnecessary distraction for charter administrators whose main goal is to improve the educational landscape in their communities.

To be sure, the report’s recommendations indicate a good-faith effort to rectify the funding gap by restructuring how public schools receive education dollars. The Post Editorial Board views the report’s Friday evening release as a way to lessen expectations, but it remains to be seen whether these recommendations translate into action.

Ensuring funding equity is important, but it’s equally critical to focus on the type of systemic reform that incentivizes more and better opportunities for students. The DC charter school law is no doubt comparably strong, but as this report indicates, there’s always more work to be done.

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My Introduction to CER

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My first day interning at the Center for Education Reform, I was introduced to the manner by which CER increases awareness regarding education policy. I learned of all the day-to-day tasks that every member at CER engages in to formulate the important message that they send out. As a sophomore at The George Washington University double majoring in Philosophy and Mathematics, one may be wondering how I ended up at CER.

I have spent semesters working with students in both public and charter schools in D.C and Philadelphia, and as such found myself drawn to the educational realm. However, as a student studying at a university located in the nation’s capital, public policy seemed to be a main theme across campus, and so I slowly became more interested in the policy and reform aspect of education as opposed to the classroom. After searching for internships that would best represent my passions, I was drawn to CER.

In the office, I aid the other members of CER by assisting with research, and thereby increasing my own knowledge regarding education policy. Working at CER enables me to use the extensive knowledge I learn in the office and relate that back to my past experiences. I have seen first hand how charter schools run, and how they differ from public schools, but now I am able to understand the requirements put in place for charter schools and public schools, the importance of school choice, and other relevant factors tied to education policy.

Interning at CER has proved to be a rewarding experience just from the few days I have been here so far, and I look forward to learning more regarding education policy so that I can then apply my knowledge to creating better opportunities in education.

Maha Hasen, CER Intern

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Rise of Student Reformers in California

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I asked Courtney, a high school student and founder of Students Transforming Education (STE), what caused him to become active and work toward reforming tenure in California.  I figured I would soon hear a story about a horrible teacher, the kind you hear about on the news – that “bad apple” who does not care about his or her students, is lazy, and doesn’t help students achieve academic heights.

I was surprised to hear the exact opposite.  Courtney explained that his life had been changed for the better thanks to outstanding teachers.

“I have been extremely lucky to have amazing teachers and I have seen firsthand the impact a great teacher can have,” he said.  Courtney had been pushed and inspired to take part in extracurricular activities like Youth & Government.

He recognized how is own life was changed  the necessity for every student in the nation to have access to outstanding teachers.

The summer before his junior year, Courtney got to work on his very own organization, STE, to “transform” the system that keeps poorly performing teachers in place.  “After researching about the situation in California and talking with teachers, administrators, school board members and education reform advocates, I decided it was time some gets students involved.”  He created an online presence using his knowledge in website design, and made it easy for students like him to inform themselves about the issues and get involved.

For Courtney, that is what was important: students getting involved, and students using their voices to fight for a change in the system that would directly affect their lives and academic experiences.  High school students get a bad rap, in his view, for not being involved and not caring about the issues.

“Students are not given the same

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