NEWSWIRE: October 28, 2014

Vol. 16, No. 42

VOTE FOR EDUCATION. No, we aren’t getting a president this year, but midterm elections are a big deal, as they have the ability to put leaders in place who truly care about delivering the promise of an excellent education for all students. Unfortunately, as AEI’s Rick Hess points out in the Washington Post, candidates aren’t putting education front and center, “seriously ignoring an issue that affects 50 million kids.” Thankfully, Education50 does all the investigative work for you, so you know where all 36 gubernatorial candidates stand on education issues before you head to the polls. There’s also a toolkit to help you decide which candidates are for real reform in all other local midterm races. Eighty one percent of Americans think education is “extremely important” for elected officials to address; it’s time for voters to take action and seek out candidates that share their views in putting student results first, regardless of party or politics.

FIVE SIMPLE QUESTIONS. As voters try to spot the real reformers in the 36 gubernatorial races this fall – with the help of Education50 – it’s just as important to ask the critical questions of those running for school board seats. Sometimes, this means reassessing priorities, questioning the status quo, and asking the tough questions to truly determine what could be working better for students, and then letting the public know about it. Read the full guide here to see the list of questions to ask your school board candidates.

SLEEPLESS IN OLYMPIA. The Washington Supreme Court is hearing arguments today as to whether the voter-approved charter school law violates the state’s constitution. Last December, a county judge ruled that the law itself was in fact constitutional, hence the state’s first charter school opened in Seattle this fall. But that ruling also put into question whether state funds can be distributed to charters. Countless suits led by opponents have been waged and lost but over and over, charter schools have been deemed constitutional and we’re certain justice will prevail in this case once again. Charter schools ARE public schools, and undoubtedly should be funded equitably like all other public schools in the Evergreen State.

MAXIMIZING SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITY. Pennsylvania is home to the greatest number of students taking advantage of a tax credit scholarship compared to any other state. And yet, only slightly more than half of available credits are actually claimed. Well state lawmakers hope to change that balance by passing an ‘open door’ mechanism between the two different tax credit scholarship program funds, decreasing the chance that funding for better opportunities go unclaimed and maximizing potential for use according to student need. Last year, just over 60,000 Pennsylvania students took advantage of this innovative resource, a substantial share of the 190,000 students nationwide. The bill now awaits Gov. Corbett’s signature.

INSTEAD OF BEAR HUG, OPT FOR HANDSHAKE. A new report from the DC Public Charter School Board highlights how successful charter schools are especially contingent on independent authorizers with a vested interest in a thriving charter sector. This report just happened to coincide with a déjà vu experience felt here at CER, upon hearing calls for more charter regulation and oversight all in the name of “transparency.” Particularly in Michigan, where legislation popped up using the biased Detroit Free Press series as a mandate for a moratorium on charter schools. These calls don’t differ all that much from the mid nineties, when leaders warned against the ‘bear hug’ of regulation that would convert charters from grassroots laboratories of innovation to the very schooling entities from which they seek to break away. Ah yes, everything old is indeed new again.

GRAND OPENING. To brighten your Tuesday, we wanted to point your attention to this video of the opening of SABIS International Academy in Trenton, NJ. A visual reminder of why parent choice is so important and why we need to elect leaders who will fight for it.

CELEBRATING EDUCATORS. As part of National Education Week, leaders will salute innovative approaches to K-12 education and you’re invited! It’s not too late to sign up for a complimentary luncheon and panel discussion set for Monday, November 10, 2014. Visit www.NationalEducationWeek.com to register.