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Newswire – July 10, 2018

A NEW HOPE FOR RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS’ FREEDOM? The President’s nominee to fill the vacancy that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will create is Brett Kavanaugh, whose long history of rulings and opinions on education issues may allow for progress and real change for religious schools and school equity: Does A Justice Kavanaugh Mean That Blaine Amendments Are History?

A SETBACK IN PUERTO RICO. A frustrating turn of events in Puerto Rico where the hopes and plans to increase educational opportunities and innovations are being held up a judge’s ruling that private school scholarships violate Puerto Rico’s Constitution and that only the University of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico’s municipalities can operate “alianza” (i.e. charter) schools.

Sadly, this is another case of putting children last when it comes to meeting their educational needs and, with hope, will only be a temporary set-back in delivering Gov. Rosselló’s hugely needed, and hugely promising reforms. The good news is that we’ve seen this movie before, and the flawed decisions of courts from Washington state to Florida are usually based on education powers in constitutions not legislative powers, which in most Constitutions take precedence. Check out this review, for example, from former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, about a similar issue claimed but not litigated in Kentucky. We’ll keep you posted.

 

NEA: THE “NOT EDUCATION ASSOCIATION.” Somehow the NEA thought it appropriate to dedicate nearly two-thirds of the resolutions at its annual conference last week to everything BUT education? What are some of the NEA’s priority issues?  Here’s a sample. Ensuring that Banana Republic doesn’t advertise with the union. Creating a toolkit to press for moratoria on charter school authorizations by bodies other than locally elected school boards. Advocating for lower interest rates and affordable housing programs for educators. And planning at least one action to shut down an immigration detention center, a Customs and order Patrol office, or an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office (and recruiting at least 500 educators to participate in the action who are willing to be arrested and not bailed out of jail for a week!).

AFT ALSO OUT OF TOUCH. As the AFT gears up for its rollicking annual convention and demagoguery fest we thought we’d brief you on the issues they’d be debating this year…that is until we looked at the list of a whopping 91 resolutions from 13 committees that are more appropriate to a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly than they are to addressing the educational needs of America’s children and families. To be fair, they do have an “Educational Issues Committee” but things go sideways fast when we get to the committees on Healthcare, Human Rights, International Relations, Labor and the Economy, Political Action (“Resolution No. 53 ‘Rev It Up:’ Register, Educate, Vote!”) and Organizing and Collective Bargaining.  Suffice it to say they will be discussing a lot of things, most of which have little or nothing to do with educating children.  If you are so inclined, you can read every word of every resolution here.

NOTE TO UNIONS: You’re supposed to be looking for ways to improve your standing after Janus not get farther away from the mission upon which you were founded.

HEARING IT DIRECTLY FROM MARK JANUS. Along with many of our most respected colleagues, we’ve been glued to the Janus v. AFSCME litigation proceedings since the beginning.  We’ve covered, interviewed and reported on the subject. But nothing compares to hearing it from the horse’s mouth. Here’s Mark Janus explaining his “why” after the historic decision.

TO NBC: NOT TO SAY, ‘WE TOLD YOU SO” BUT… The Grade, by Alexander Russo, offers up a great article over the irresponsibly story alleging charter schools are creating “white flight” from traditional public schools. The contention is absurd, and we said so, but the Grade goes even further. A very brief synopsis of its critique: “…unfortunately, the [NBC/Hechinger] piece fails badly at its larger attempt, which is to assert that this kind of charter school is a significant problem nationally. Despite all efforts to make it seem otherwise, the data presented in the story do not support the claim that segregated white charters are a big problem.” Read the full article here.

COMPETITION. Pennsylvania’s Bensalem school district hired a consultant to tell them why so many families were choosing charter schools over district schools. The consultant’s explanation: with charter schools as an option for families, districts must compete for students, which means they have to improve in areas where they are lacking – be that in performance or programs or in working with parents. “Of course,” the article concludes correctly, “competition is what the charter school law was supposed to produce — because competition drives excellence.”

THE ROAD TO INNOVATION IS PAVED WITH SILVER… This week we are pleased to announce the addition of Arizona State University as a partner in CER’s Silver Anniversary Summit. We’re grateful for the pathbreaking leadership of ASU and it’s visionary president Michael Crow in their myriad endeavors. Start your engines and make your way to Miami on October 26th! Registration opens this week!

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