NEWSWIRE: January 20, 2015

Vol. 17, No. 3

IN PURSUIT OF EQUITY. The Center for Education Reform, together with allied organizations, filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit that intends to bring equitable funding for District of Columbia charter schools. The lawsuit, filed in July 2014, takes a bold stand against the persistent funding inequity that undercuts charter educators’ ability to provide the best possible learning environments. In 1995, the D.C. School Reform Act passed by Congress required the District to institute a public charter school program, but also required a per-student funding model that applies equally to ALL public schools. So far, that hasn’t happened and D.C. charters have lost out on as much as $770 million since FY 2008. This lawsuit seeks to change that by making the case that it’s unacceptable to inequitably fund 45 percent of the District’s public school population.

STATE OF THE UNION. Tonight President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address, and is expected to discuss what it will take to improve education nationwide. That being said, it’s likely the recent community college announcement and ESEA reauthorization will both get mentions. While it’s wishful thinking to expect an explicit endorsement of school choice policies like charters or vouchers, hopefully President Obama will touch on themes related to Parent Power, innovation and accountability. Whether it’s the Arizona mom of a child with special needs who can now use a savings account to get critical resources, or an Indiana family using vouchers, there are a litany of inspiring stories that highlight the positive results of allowing parents a choice in education. Click here to read CER’s full SOTU wish list, along with who would sit in our version of the FLOTUS box.

BUILDING BOOST. Governor Rick Scott recommended in his state budget $100 million for Florida charter school construction and maintenance. Great news, as charter school leaders are no strangers to funding shortfalls when it comes to facilities. CER’s charter closure report reveals many charters actually start out at a deficit due to a lack of facility funds, and nearly 42 percent have closed because of financial deficiencies. The solution requires a change to state law, so charters don’t have to depend solely on the budget proposals of reform-minded state executives.

CHOICE ON GEORGIA’S MIND. Within just a few hours – yes hours – on January 1, the Peach State tax credit scholarship program reached its $58 million cap for the year. Georgia’s program receives a B on CER’s tax credit scholarship rankings and scorecard, and its biggest weakness is that there are too few credits available to meet demand. Last year, 13,285 students obtained scholarships, representing just one percent of the Peach State’s total age 5-17 population. Between the short time it took to reach the program cap and a poll showing two out of three Georgia voters support school choice, families are sending a loud and clear message that they want more education options.

NATIONAL SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK IS ALMOST HERE. Just a few more days until it’s time to break out the yellow scarves for National School Choice Week, when families nationwide will celebrate how they have benefitted from choosing education. Click here to find an event happening in your state, and don’t miss the kickoff happening Friday, January 23 in Jacksonville, Florida!