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The Miseducation of CNN (And Bernie Sanders)

A question posed to Bernie Sanders at last night’s Ohio democratic debate was a missed opportunity to powerfully educate the public about charter schools.  Typically, information is power, but when the information is bad, all we have is mush.  Following is Sanders’ exchange with the questioner and Roland Martin, a well-informed media commentator with a passion for education: (with some of my own commentary sprinkled in)

MARTIN:  Since I have a brother and two sisters who are teachers, and one who is a teacher’s aide, let’s go to a teacher.  We have Caitlyn Dunn, she helps lead a charter school here in Columbus, Ohio.  She did Teach for America and saw the inequities in our school system, and she says she is undecided.  So, you got a shot.  Go for it.

DUNN:  Thank you so much for taking my question.  An article was released in the Columbus Dispatch Friday announcing the schools producing top student gains from around the state of Ohio.  Of these, one-third of those schools producing these results were charters right here in Columbus, Ohio.  So, knowing this, and also having similar narratives from across the country, do you think that charter schools are a viable way to educate children in low-income communities, or do you think that you would continue, as President, giving money to traditional public schools?

During this time, apparently CNN’s Teleprompter was miscued by an ill-informed editor, because rather than abbreviate the question correctly, CNN produced this bastardized version, suggesting that charters were not public schools.

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Adding insult to injury, Mr. Sanders seemed to create a new class of charter schools, one that does

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Should the Senate Confirm King?

Should the Senate Confirm U.S. Education Secretary Nominee?

The Center for Education Reform continues its vigilance on school choice, particularly in Washington DC with the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), an effort we began in 1996 and that finally culminated in success in the 2004-2005 school year.

As the Senate HELP Committee voted 16-6 yesterday on the nomination of John B. King, Jr. for U.S. Education Secretary, CER Founder and Interim-CEO Jeanne Allen spoke with the Wall Street Journal about the power he has to expand DC’s OSP.

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During one of his hearings, Senator Tim Scott pressed King on why his prospective new Department would sit on $35 million in carry-over funds dedicated for the program.

King’s nomination awaits a full vote from the Senate. As good of a man as he is known to be, perhaps it’s time for the U.S. Senate to send the Obama Administration a signal that denying opportunities to students will not stand.

Related News: U.S. Education Secretary Gets Pressed on DC OSP

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Charter Schools Have Succeeded in Saving Public Education From Further Failure

When four education professors author a report about a change in public education governance that actually turns the incentives and power structure from top down control to bottom up accountability, it’s unlikely to result in anything but misrepresentations and confusion. That’s precisely what occurred in the report covered by Business Insider on January 6, one that attempts to discredit the movement that Time Magazine once called a grassroots revolution by comparing it to the mortgage crisis. The authors believe and say as much in their report that parents of students in charter schools – some 2.5 million of them – actually don’t freely make choices. These “we know best” academics infer that poor people, in particular, are not capable of doing so given their poverty or low income status (Note: 60% of all charters have a mean of 60% or more children of color and as many have a mean of more than 60% at risk, but they are not all poor, minority schools.) They clearly have never met a charter parent – or perhaps any low income parent – who despite their challenges know their children better than anyone else about what works for their child’s education.

The education academics’ inference -wrongly – is that we charter schools give a choice to people who are not qualified, much in the same way that the sub-prime housing bust was a result of giving mortgages to people who could not afford to put money down, on houses whose values were inflated. In that case, if housing prices went up, the buyer would win. If not, the taxpayer would lose – and lose they did.

In charter schools, parents make a decision to take their child from, or not enroll them, in the assigned public school. They are in the same

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